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I get asked at least once per week which Film Simulation Recipe was used for a picture in the Fuji X Weekly homepage gallery. It’s my fault for not telling you. I should have made it much more obvious. Maybe I should make posts with galleries (but actually include the recipes used so that you don’t have to wonder)? If you see a particular picture you like, perhaps you’ll be inspired to try that recipe.
Anyway, this article is simply an explanation of which recipe was used for each picture in the homepage gallery. If you’ve ever wondered, now you know. I’ll probably change out some of the images within the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.
Find these Film Simulation Recipes and over 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
I’ve never really cared for Fujifilm’s Provia film simulation. I mean, it’s alright, but I like most of the other options better, and I wondered why they made it the “standard” film simulation. It doesn’t much resemble real Provia film—why even call it Provia?—yet it is front-and-center on all Fujifilm models.
I Recently stumbled across a fascinating article that helped me better understand why I don’t like Provia, and why the other film sims look the way they do. Exibartstreet.com translated and summarized an interview of two Fujifilm managers who discussed at length the different film simulations found on Fujifilm cameras (the original interview articles can be found here and here, and is two years old). I now have a little better understanding of Fujifilm’s philosophy behind the creation of their profiles.
Specifically to Provia, I discovered that I was never supposed to like it. It wasn’t designed for me. “When it comes to Provia,” one of the Fujifilm managers stated, “photographers that started with film find it hard, but photographers that only shoot digitally find it just right.” Well, I started with film; I don’t know if I’d describe it as “hard” but it is far from “just right” for me personally. “Provia aims at the greatest common denominator that makes you feel ‘beautiful’ at a glance.” In other words, they weren’t trying to mimic any emulsions, but create a profile that looks nice to those who have only ever shot with digital cameras. “In my personal opinion, I would like to change the name ‘film simulation,'” the Fujifilm manager said. “Film simulation is not film imitation.”
Diving into the interview, we discover that Velvia was, in fact, modeled after the film of the same name, but digital sensor and processor limitations have made it difficult to reproduce the film’s aesthetic; however, beginning with X-Trans III, Fujifilm has been able to get closer. Enabling Color Chrome Effect allows you to achieve the appropriate color depth.
The Astia film simulation looks so much different than real Astia film. “We often receive comments that ‘reproducibility is different from Astia of silver salt,'” the manager explained. “The reason for this is that ‘the image quality design is not aimed at silver salt Astia.’ You may wonder what it means to bear the name of Astia even though it is different, but it is not completely unrelated. In fact, both film and digital are aiming at the same place. In other words, the film simulation ‘Astia’ was developed to bring it closer to the ‘ideal Astia’ that the development team aimed for when developing the silver salt film Astia.” Put more simply, the film simulation is the aesthetic that Fujifilm would have produced with the film if they could have.
Classic Chrome was modeled after an unmentioned slide film… they can’t say Kodak.
PRO Neg. Std and PRO Neg. Hi were not modeled after any specific emulsions, but are for faithful color reproduction. “The main difference is the tone curve. PRO Neg. Hi is adjusted to tighten the shadows and tighten the highlights. On the other hand, the color design is the same.”
The Eterna film simulation was modeled after Eterna motion picture film. Regarding Eterna Bleach Bypass, “This setting is equivalent to ‘half of the silver remaining’ on film….”
“Classic Negative is a very special kind of film simulation, designed so that the appearance of colors changes depending on the brightness. Therefore, I make adjustments so that dark tones are cyan, and bright tones are magenta. Classic Negative… was originally ‘Superia.'” It’s clear that this film simulation was carefully crafted to closely mimic Superia film. “To tell you the truth, I feel that Classic Negative was a little too bold.” I think Fujifilm should consider going “too bold” more often!
There’s a heck-of-a-lot more said in the interview that’s quite fascinating. I think Fujifilm doesn’t want its users to interpret “film simulation” as “film imitation” because not all of their film sims are intended to mimic film. Some are, and some are not. But, even the ones that are not, the digital side teamed up with the film side to assist in designing all of the film simulations—including Provia/Std—and I think their careful attention to detail and vast film experience translates into profiles that can be made to resemble film, even if the film sim was never intended to. Still, the film simulations that are, in fact, modeled after film are my favorites.
This is the third and final installment of this series. As a reminder, I photographed only with my Fujifilm X-T1 from the announcement day of the Fujifilm X-T5 (November 2) until the release date (November 17). Why? First, even though the Fujifilm X-T1 is eight-years-old (and approaching nine), it is still such a great little camera. It took three years for Fujifilm to bring this model to the market because they wanted to get it right, and it was one of their most important cameras ever released. The Fujifilm X-T1 was one of the first, if not the first, Fujifilm cameras that widely appealed to professional photographers. It was Fujifilm’s most successful model at the time—outselling all the previous cameras—and launched the extremely successful X-T line. The X-T5 is the latest iteration. This project was intended to give me a better understanding of how the X-T5 has evolved from the original model. It also allowed me to demonstrate that previous models, including the original X-T1, are still really good.
I wanted to try some things with the X-T1 that I wasn’t able to do in the first 10 days, including wildlife and low-light. I had been sick, which made this a much more difficult project than I had anticipated, so I tried to make the most of the last five days. In the end I didn’t do everything that I wanted, but I was able to do a lot, and I’m happy with how it all came together.
I was really impressed with the Fujifilm X-T1—even in 2022, it is an excellent body that’s quite capable of capturing beautiful photographs. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting with it, more than I thought I would. The only shortcoming that I encountered was in dim light, the autofocus tended to hunt. This didn’t prevent me from getting the pictures, but it did make me work a little harder to do it. Otherwise, the camera performed exceptionally well in a whole host of situations. If you have one, it’s definitely a keeper. If you are in the market for a used Fujifilm model, this is one that I have no problems recommending. Is the X-T5 better? Sure. Is the X-T4 better? Yeah. Is the X-T3 better? Affirmative. Is the X-T2 better? I’m certain that it is. But, the X-T1 is still really good, and the newer iterations aren’t miles ahead—each new model is marginally better than the previous, which means that the latest is only four small steps ahead; ahead indeed, but the ol’ X-T1 holds its own surprisingly well.
I hope that you enjoyed this short-term project as much as I did!
In my series, Which Film Simulation Recipes, When?, I’m trying to help out those who are unsure what Film Simulation Recipe to use in a given situation (after all, there are more than 250 to choose from). One of those situation is when you’re shooting in overcast conditions on a dreary day. I provide a recipe suggestion, plus five alternatives, to try. This topic was also discussed briefly in the last SOOC broadcast. The problem is that it’s all subjective; what I think might work well on a rainy day, you might disagree with. The aesthetic that I like you might not. Everyone has their own opinions.
What makes a Film Simulation Recipe work well on an overcast day? First, I think it needs to accentuate the mood. To me, that’s most important, although feelings are abstract and variable, so the task of saying “this recipe has the right mood” is difficult. Whether it should be punchy or muted, warm or cool, depends on the mood you want to convey. The recipe also needs to be able to handle the grey sky and not blow it out, while also dealing with low-contrast situations that you’re likely to encounter. It also has to look good at higher ISOs, because if it’s thick overcast, you’re likely dealing with higher ISOs (thankfully, most recipes do well at higher ISOs because of the X-Trans sensor and processing).
Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry published an excellent article today tackling this topic that I want to direct you to (click here—I promise that it is worth your time to do so). Obviously she doesn’t look at every recipe or even most recipes, but she does a comparison of a handful of them, and you can decide for yourself which one (or ones), if any, stand out to you as something to try. Since it is subjective, what she likes—or what I like—might be much different than what you like, and that’s perfectly ok—it’s about finding what works for you. Nathalie and I are both trying to take you on a path of discovery, so that you can find the recipes that work for you, and in the process you’re likely to find some that aren’t your style.
The best path to discovery involves action. You have to try a recipe in a given situation to figure out if it does well or not, and if you appreciate the results of it. You have to be willing to fail—by fail, I simply mean that you might find a recipe that you don’t like to use in a given situation while attempting to find one that you do like for that situation. In a way, it’s a little like playing the classic board game Clue. Was it Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick? Maybe. You have to suggest it to find out. Will the Elite Chrome 200 recipe work well for you on a rainy day? Maybe. I can suggest it, but you need to try it for yourself to find out. Nathalie’s article might be particularly helpful to you, because she did the hard work, and one of those recipes that she used might just stand out to you as one to try the next time you are photographing in the rain.
Now it’s your turn! What is your favorite Film Simulation Recipe to use on overcast, dreary, rainy days? Let me know in the comments!
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This Creative Collective article is a followup to Comparing 10 Recipes For Indoor Photography and Fujifilm X-T30 & X-T3 Film Simulation Recipe: Cinematic Negative. Specifically, I’m going to discuss light rendering in a practical sense, color casts, and mood; how all of that relates to Film Simulation Recipes and photography, and how you can use it to your advantage to better control your images, and the emotions that they convey to those viewing them.
Read more of this content when you join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective today. Click here to learn more.
When people discuss their camera gear, they mostly talk about their camera bodies and lenses. Photography accessories are sometimes overlooked, but they can be just as important. While I’m most commonly asked about cameras and lenses, occasionally someone inquires about my “other” gear, wanting to know what I use and why, and what I recommend. In this article I’ll briefly discuss each camera accessory that I use and why I use it.
The way that I’m going to do this article is I’ll talk about which accessories I currently use with various camera bodies. I’ll begin with the Fujifilm X100V and continue on until I’ve covered all of the different accessories.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm X100V Accessories
I don’t have a lot of accessories for my Fujifilm X100V, but the ones I do have are very important. First, I have a Hoagle filter adapter (Amazon). Using a filter adapter on the X100V (in conjunction with a filter) makes the camera weather-sealed, as the only part that isn’t weather-sealed is the front lens element—simply screwing on a filter fixes this, but it requires an adapter. There are a number of brands who sell one, including Fujifilm themselves (Amazon), but I use Hoagle because it’s cheap and it works. I always use a filter, either a Fotasy 49mm UV filter (Amazon), or one of several diffusion filters: Tiffen 1/4 Black Pro Mist (Amazon), which I used in conjunction with the KodaNeg Film Simulation Recipes, 5% CineBloom (Amazon), 10% CineBloom (B&H), or 20% CineBloom (Amazon). Of these filters, the 5% CineBloom and Fotasy UV are the two most commonly used, and the 20% CineBloom is the least used. Shooting with diffusion filters is the third suggestion in my 7 Tips to Get the Film Look From Your Digital Photos article. You can also stack them to achieve a dreamy look.
What else? I found the camera strap used on eBay. I have a Monfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod (B&H), which I do use occasionally with this camera (and my other cameras). Otherwise, that’s it.
Fujifilm X-E4 Accessories
I don’t really have any accessories for my Fujifilm X-E4, but I thought I’d take a moment to talk about lens adaptors. Fujifilm cameras are especially great when paired with vintage lenses, which typically have more character than modern glass. This is the fourth suggestion in my 7 Tips to Get the Film Look From Your Digital Photos article. To use vintage lenses, you’ll need an adapter, and I currently have three: M42-to-Fuji-X, M39-to-Fuji-X, and Pentax-110-to-Fuji-X. The M42 and M39 adapters are nondescript ones I purchased on eBay for cheap six years ago, but the Fotasy M42 (Amazon) and M39 (Amazon) would work just fine, and are inexpensive. My Pentax-110 adapter is made by Fotasy (Amazon).
Another thing worth noting is that, because of the compact size of the X-E4 and X100V, the National Geographic NG 2344 Earth Explorer Mall Shoulder Bag (Amazon) works really well for me, better than any other camera bag I’ve ever owned—I don’t travel without it.
Fujifilm X-T30 Accessories
I don’t have a lot to add with my Fujifilm X-T30, so I’ll take the opportunity to bring up SD cards and batteries. Because I’ve been shooting for awhile, I have tons of memory cards lying around, but the one I use the most is SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB (Amazon), which I own several of. I have a number of spare Fujifilm NP-W126S batteries (Amazon); I do own a couple third-party batteries, but I don’t like using them, and only do so in a pinch, which is very infrequently. I love the Nitecore USB Camera Battery Charger (Amazon), which just so happens to fit really well in one of the pockets in my camera bag.
Fujifilm X70 Accessories
My Fujifilm X70 came with an official Fujifilm leather half-case (Amazon), which I absolutely love! If mine hadn’t come with this, I probably wouldn’t have purchased the case because I wouldn’t have realized what I was missing. Definitely “worth it” in my opinion; however, I’m sure some of the cheaper third-party options are nearly as good for a fraction of the cost.
Fujifilm X-H1 Accessories
The final accessory that I want to bring up for my Fujifilm gear is my studio lighting: Phottix Nuada R3 II two-light kit (Amazon). I don’t use artificial lights very often, but occasionally I do (like here and when I do the SOOC broadcasts), and the Phottix Nuada R3 II is absolutely great. Best lights I’ve ever owned—bright, versatile, compact, lightweight. I’m sure they’re not for everyone, but if you’re thinking about buying some studio lights and are unsure what to get, I do recommend this kit.
iPhone 11 Accessories
Since I created my very own iPhone camera app—RitchieCam—it should come as no surprise that I have a couple of iPhone accessories: Moment Tele 58mm lens (Amazon) and Moment MagSafe Tripod Mount (Amazon), which require a Moment cellphone case (Amazon). Completely worthwhile, in my opinion.
I own a shelf-full of different accessories that I’ve collected over the last nearly 25 years, but the ones mentioned in this article are the ones that I actually use. There are a number of items that I have used before, but have parted ways with or sit collecting dust, so I didn’t mention them. I’m sure I could list a number of accessories that I wish I had, but this article is about what I currently use. For some of you, this list might seem surprisingly short. For some of you, this list might appear to have unnecessary or redundant items. A lot of times I think that less is more, particularly with camera gear, but if there’s something you’ll actually use, it’s likely worth having around.
Well, because I’ve been under the weather, I’ve had the opportunity to read several books that have been sitting on my shelf for awhile. Some of these I’ve read before. Some I had previously only skimmed through. Some I hadn’t even cracked open yet. Now, with extra time on my hands, I have been able to read through a number of photography books. Below are the ones that I’ve been reading. If you are looking for some photographic resources and/or inspiration, I recommend adding these to your library—I’ve included a link to Amazon if you’re interested in purchasing any.
The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum — A great practical guide to improving your photography — Amazon
Authentic Portraits by Chris Orwig — Solid advice for improving your portrait photography — Amazon
Ansel Adams’ Yosemite by Ansel Adams — Inspirational pictures of one of my absolute favorite locations — Amazon
The Way Home by June Van Cleef — A book by the person who taught me photography — Amazon
Curious Cameras by Todd Gustavson — If you like learning about unusual gear, this is the book — Amazon
Steam, Steel & Stars by O. Winston Link — Amazing B&W photography of steam trains at night — Amazon
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
You might have a favorite Film Simulation Recipe, but when the light changes you’re disappointed with the results. This is a pretty common problem, and not unique to Fujifilm or even a new issue to photography. This happens because many of my recipes are modeled after or are inspired by analog film, and this is a long-time film problem.
With a few rare exceptions, film is either daylight balanced (usually around 5500K) or tungsten balanced (typically 3200K)—one for use in daylight, and the other for use in artificial light. If you encountered light outside of the temperature that the film was intended to be shot in, you would either accept the results or use a color correction filter (described in this article) to fix the imbalance. Many Film Simulation Recipes have this same issue: they’re intended to be used in a specific light condition, and outside of that they might not produce the best results.
When shooting film, your best option is to use the correct film for the situation; with recipes, I think this is also the best solution. Sometimes this isn’t practical, and so you could use color correction filters (both with film and film simulations), although carrying around a bag full of filters isn’t an especially convenient option. With digital, you have an added solution: adjust the white balance, which is essentially the digital equivalent of using color correction filters. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the first option, which is selecting a Film Simulation Recipe that does well in the light situation that you find yourself shooting in.
With over 250 Film Simulation Recipes on this website (and the Fuji X Weekly App), it can be hard to know which ones perform best in which light. In this article (and hopefully additional articles in the future), we’re going to compare how 10 recipes perform in various light conditions. It should be enlightening, and hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of when to use which recipes.
Before we jump into it, I think it’s important to briefly discuss Kelvin. The measurement of the temperature (warm or cold) of light is called Kelvin, and the scale is pretty large, ranging from 0 to 20000—the lower the number, the warmer the light, and the higher the number, the cooler the light. The typical temperature of a candle flame is 1900K. Artificial light (incandescent lights, halogen bulbs, fluorescent tubes, etc.) is usually between 2800K and 4300K, depending on the specific bulbs being used. “Golden Hour” light (sunrise and sunset) is around 3500K. Morning and afternoon sunlight (outside of golden hour) is typically between 4500K and 5000K, while midday sunlight is typically 5600K. Overcast sky often ranges from 6000K to 9000K, and shade can be 8000K to 10000K. Your camera’s white balance is designed to “balance” these temperatures so that white is white—a warm light will need a cool white balance, and a cool light will need a warm white balance.
With that prerequisite understanding, let’s take a look at how 10 different Film Simulation Recipes handle various Kelvin temperature light conditions.
Every Sunday from October through April, the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club offers free 7 1/2″ gauge train rides through the desert in north Glendale, Arizona. My kids love trains (what kids don’t?), and so my wife and I took them out on an excursion. The club has an extensive setup in the desert—over 18 miles of track—and members from across several states come to operate their scale equipment there. One day each week, except during the heat of summer, the club is open to the public, giving free train rides to anyone who wishes to traverse through the creosote and sand.
I brought along my Fujifilm X100V to capture the experience, with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera. To make this recipe compatible with the X100V, I set Grain size to Small, Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and Clarity to 0. The X100V is such a great camera for adventures like this, being compact and quiet, yet completely capable of fantastic image quality. My Fujifilm X70 would have worked just as well, but one advantage of the X100V is the viewfinder, which came in handy in the harsh midday light.
Fujichrome Sensia 100 was an inexpensive general-purpose daylight-balanced slide film made by Fujifilm from 1994 through 2011. There were three different iterations of the emulsion during that time. It was a popular film for cross-processing (developing in C41 chemistry); otherwise, it was primarily used for documenting family vacations, and was marketed to amateurs and hobbyists. My Film Simulation Recipe mimics the film only as a happy accident, as I wasn’t trying to create a facsimile of Sensia, but it is surprisingly similar nonetheless.
Below are camera-made JPEGs captured with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V while at the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club:
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
On October 20, Nathalie and I will be introducing the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on SOOC as the next recipe-of-the-month. Mark your calendars now, and I hope to see you then!
Find this Film Simulation Recipe and 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the wonderful photography of Gerardo Celasco! Although you might not have seen his pictures before, there’s a decent chance that you’ve seen Gerardo. He’s a model-turned-actor (among other things, including internationally competing show jumping horse rider, accomplished volleyball player, and financial expert) who does photography as a hobby. He has a lot of talent, and whatever he does he does very well—photography included.
Although he was born in Miami, Gerardo grew up in El Salvador. He later moved to Texas and studied at Southern Methodist University. His home base is now in California, but he frequently travels internationally, and of course brings a camera along—a Fujifilm camera—to capture the moments.
Gerardo is perhaps best known for playing Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on the NBC drama Passions from 2006-2007. He also played Carlos Peña in Moneyball, Mark Kovac in two episodes of Bones, Xavier Castillo during Season 5 and 6 of How To Get Away With Murder, Ty Salazar in Next, and Dr. Nick Vega in a recent episode of Good Sam, among other things.
In the coming-soon-to-Netflix series Devil in Ohio Gerardo plays Detective Lopez. We’ll get more into this in a moment, but below you’ll find the trailer, which you should definitely take a moment to watch right now.
Fuji X Weekly: Hey, Gerardo! I’m truly honored for this opportunity to interview you! Let’s begin at the very beginning: where did your early interests in photography come from? Were cameras and pictures a big part of your childhood?
Gerardo Celasco: We didn’t grow up taking a lot of photos in my family and we didn’t have lots of cameras around when my siblings and I were growing up. My dad was an engineer and my mom worked in sales and retail for a shoe company in El Salvador. To this day, we still don’t take many photos when we’re together. When we’re on a trip we always say, “We have to take more group photos!” And since I always have a camera on me, I’m always the one taking the photos so I’m rarely in the pictures.
Fuji X Weekly: How did you get started in photography?
Gerardo Celasco: I got started in photography pretty early on, but not necessarily behind the camera. When I was in high school I was asked to be the model for a campaign in El Salvador. Roberto Aguilar was the most sought out photographer in El Salvador. No one was doing what he was doing, and I got to be in front of his camera several times—it was my first time being in front of the camera. We became really close friends, and I learned so much from watching him work. He moved to Europe and became a professor in France for a few years, and is now living in London. Roberto was my first influence in photography, but I can also say he was my first influence in “performing” as well. I never went to drama school. I have a degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University—a life in entertainment wasn’t really in the cards for me growing up in El Salvador and the son of entrepreneurs.
Fuji X Weekly: What made you pursue photography further, take it more seriously?
Gerardo Celasco: This image [above] is my first one that shocked me when I saw it imported into my computer. I believe I shot it with a Leica D-Lux 4. There was no plan—it was on auto—and I got that “bokeh” everyone talks about. I didn’t know how that happened or how to recreate it, so that inspired me to really learn about the art form. I decided to enroll into a UCLA extension course for Photography, and did that for a few months. That’s where I learned about aperture and depth of field and things like that.
Fuji X Weekly: What was your most memorable photography experience?
Gerardo Celasco: I think that first image I shot that shocked me is the most memorable. It’s what inspired all of my other images. I still love the photo so much. It’s very raw, very real. I can feel so much when I see it. It was shot in El Salvador in La Libertad near the beach. It was sticky and damp. The two women were working and cooking on open fire in that heat. Maybe it’s because I was there, but I feel all of that every time I see the image.
Fuji X Weekly: What was your first camera?
Gerardo Celasco: My first camera was one of the really small Canon PowerShots. It was a matte silver. I carried that thing everywhere—way before we had cameras in our cellular phones. The list goes on from there: Canon 20D, Leica D-Lux 4, Canon 5D Mark II, Fujifilm X100T, Sony a7, Fuji X-T2, Fuji X-Pro3—that is the trajectory into mirrorless, but more importantly how I found Fuji. I also shoot film with a Canon AE-1 Program, and my everyday—always with me—Olympus Mju II, which always sparks a conversation or a laugh when I pull it out.
Fuji X Weekly: What made you buy your first Fujifilm camera? What do you shoot with now?
Gerardo Celasco: A trip to Morocco with my 5D led me to give up on my entire Canon photography gear. It was so heavy, and was very distracting. You couldn’t really get away with shooting discretely with a camera that size. At the time my good friend, cinematographer and camera/steadicam operator Eduardo Fierro, was a Fuji shooter. His exact words when I complained about my Canon were “Vendé esa mierda y compráte la Fuji” (which means: sell that shit and buy a Fuji!). So that’s what I did, and the X100T was my first Fuji. I now shoot with the X-Pro3, paired with a Fuji 27mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, or 16-55 f/2.8.
Fuji X Weekly: What is your favorite aspect of Fujifilm cameras?
Gerardo Celasco: What I love most about the Fuji lineup—other than the obvious size and price—is the menu and the film simulations. The user interface is great and easy to get around. But for me, the film simulations are what really sets it apart from anything else. I don’t do any post editing on my images (because I haven’t learned Capture One or Photoshop), and I shoot everything JPEG (mainly because I don’t know what to do with a RAW file, and have never felt the need for it). Fuji X Weekly is my go to App for Film Simulation Recipes. Funnily enough, I believe that is how we met: I sent you a DM on Instagram, praising all of your Film Simulation Recipes and the RitchieCam App on the iPhone.
Fuji X Weekly: That’s right! I definitely remember that day—it was a nice surprise, and a bit of a shock. By the way, which Film Simulation Recipes do you like best?
Gerardo Celasco: My favorite film simulations are Portra 400, Portra 800, and the Ilford black-and-white ones. I honestly like the output of the Fuji Portra recipes more than the images I get with my film camera using real Portra 400 film—and it’s also cheaper.
Fuji X Weekly: What do you photograph most now?
Gerardo Celasco: I like shooting life, but I don’t like calling it “street photography.” I don’t have a style, and I honestly don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. I just shoot when I’m inspired. And I shoot what seems interesting to me at that moment. But I never have a plan. I just simply shoot, and share my images. I don’t like the pressure of someone asking me to photograph something or an event—I get so much satisfaction in just showing up with a camera and capturing beautiful moments when I haven’t been asked to, and then sharing those moments.
Fuji X Weekly: Who are your photographic influences?
Gerardo Celasco: I don’t have a list of photographers that have influenced me—I can probably only name a handful of them—but it’s not like I’m trying to do what they did. Vivian Maier, Ansel Adams, Garry Winograd, Henri Cartier-Bresson—those names comes to mind without me cheating and looking at my bookshelf.
Fuji X Weekly: How has your acting career influenced your photography?
Gerardo Celasco: Most people think that being an actor influenced my photography, but what it did was enhance it. Photography (in front or behind the camera), was my first step to becoming an actor—I’ve always felt that photography led me to my acting career. Being on set has made me more comfortable in front of the camera but at the same time it inspires me to want to shoot more. I’m always chatting up the cinematographer or the camera operators when I am on a set—mostly I’m just asking lots of questions about composition and lighting. Those men and women know so much, and I just try to learn and soak up as much as they are willing to share. Their work is what inspires me today.
Fuji X Weekly: Tell me about your upcoming Netflix series, Devil in Ohio.
Gerardo Celasco: Ah. Devil in Ohio! I feel like you and your wife have been patiently waiting for that. I think I was shooting that when I found RitchieCam and we started talking, only to find out you were the same person behind Fuji X Weekly! We’re only a couple weeks away from the premiere day. It will air on Netflix on September 2, and all 8 episodes will be available.
The show is based on a book by the same name written by Daria Polatin. Daria is also the showrunner for the show. The story was inspired by true events, which always makes it more interesting. I would describe it as a family drama meets a suspense/thriller. It has elements of both. Emily Deschanel (who I worked with many years ago on the final episodes of Bones), plays Suzanne Mathis, a Psychiatrist who is caring for an underage girl who has turned up at hospital clearly in distress. No one comes looking for the girl, so Suzanne decides to take her into her home until they can find a family for her. Doesn’t take long to realize that the girl has escaped from a cult, putting the family and their relationships in danger. I play Detective Alex Lopez, who is a transplant from big city Chicago. He’s a fish out of water, and by-the-book, but also has no idea what he’s dealing with by taking on this case. We had a great group of actors, great directors, and an incredible crew. I hope people find it and enjoy it!
Fuji X Weekly: Gerardo, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to allow me to interview you—it’s been such a pleasure!
Gerardo Celasco: I’d just like to say thank you for including me in this. I’m a big fan of Fuji X Weekly, and for you to ask me to be a part of it is really cool.
Check out more of Gerardo’s photography below:
The photographs in this article are © Gerardo Celasco.
Back in May, while on a lengthy roadtrip, I stopped in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, for the night. A small town along historic Route 66, Santa Rosa pretty much exists to provide food, fuel, and beds for travelers passing east-and-west through The Land of Enchantment. Like a lot of old Route 66 towns, Santa Rosa has seen better days—there are many abandoned buildings along the highway, and some others that appear to not be far from their inevitable fate of abandonment.
Santa Rosa might be best known for a scene in The Grapes of Wrath, where Tom Joad watches a freight train cross a bridge over the Pecos River. Scars from The Great Depression are still visible if you look hard enough. The biggest tourist attraction is the Blue Hole, a natural swimming pond fed by a vast underground water system. While visiting Santa Rosa, I was asked by locals a couple of times, “Are you here for the Blue Hole?” I guess it’s a big deal, but I didn’t make time to see it.
I did make time to photograph a few of the abandoned buildings. One was an old Exxon gas station. This particular service station offered two grades of gas, two stalls for vehicle maintenance, and two restrooms. You could buy maps or a soda from a vending machine. Inside was an old Dairy Queen sign that I do not believe originated from this particular gas station, but probably another building elsewhere in town, perhaps owned by the same person.
In an empty grass-filled lot next to the gas station I found some old playground equipment. There may have been a campground or RV park there at one time, but the playground is the only thing left. I suppose on hot summer nights, the ghosts who still use the teeter-totter can get a coke from the abandoned Exxon next door.
Exploring and photographing places like this is both fascinating and frightening. It’s like a large time capsule that broke open years before being discovered, now filled with retro nostalgia and haunting decay. You don’t know what you’ll find—what’s hiding behind a corner—and even if there isn’t any danger, it’s still not safe. Going into abandoned buildings is never safe. I do believe that it’s important to photograph these places for several reasons: they’re always changing (due to nature and vandals) and will eventually be completely gone, they offer a glimpse into a previous time that’s long gone and fading from our memories, and to document the way societies deals with unwanted junk from broken lives and broken dreams. As Troy Paiva put it, these places are “steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay.”
The sun was low while I was there, preparing to set behind the western horizon—I had about 30 minutes of wonderful “golden hour” light to work with. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens attached to it to capture these images. The Film Simulation Recipe that I used for these photographs was Kodak Portra 400 v2, which is one of my favorites—the Kodak-like colors and tones are just so lovely—an excellent option for this particular scene and light.
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I wanted to follow-up my interview with Troy Paiva (click here to read it), which wasn’t directly related to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes (although it was highly relatable), with something directly connected to the topics that are typically found on the Fuji X Weekly blog. Just as I was contemplating who I was going to interview and what the exact subject might be, I received a message from Matt Giesow of VAST Media, a photo and video production company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I have been running my production company for nearly five years now,” Matt told me, “and picking up a Fuji has been a breath of fresh air.” He stated that using Film Simulation Recipes on his camera allowed him to deliver some images immediately to the client, and that his JPEG workflow is “so nice.”
His words echoed in my head for the rest of that day. I felt similarly when I first started in Fujifilm: it was like a breath of fresh air—cool, crisp, mountain air. That was before I had even discovered the great JPEG output of the cameras, and before I had begun to make recipes. It must be even more refreshing nowadays, with so many resources available—such as Fuji X Weekly. It’s an honor to help others also experience that “fresh air” that Fujifilm cameras can provide. I knew that I wanted the next interview to be with Matt, so the following morning I asked if he’d be willing. Thankfully, he was very enthusiastic, and we were able to accomplish it rather quickly. So, without any further delay, here’s my interview with Matt Giesow!
FXW: Hi, Matt! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day today to do this interview! Let’s begin at the beginning. Tell me how you got started in photography?
Matt Giesow: Hey, Ritchie! I’m a self-taught photographer, dating back to 2017 from “YouTube University”—that, and being on staff at a pretty creative church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, created a great launching pad into the world of photography and videography.
FXW: What was your first camera?
Matt Giesow: An iPhone 4 and the VSCO app. My first camera purchased to learn photography on was the Canon 80D.
FXW: What were your early photographic interests?
Matt Giesow: I remember when instagram first came out, I tried to make my shots look like film using Insta’s built-in filters [laughter]. Today and I’m still interested in photographing people, places, and things with a nostalgic vintage look.
FXW: What are your current photographic interests? What do you shoot just for fun?
Matt Giesow: I enjoy street photography. Exploring cities—both ones I know and ones that I’ve not yet been to—and finding hidden gems to capture. I also enjoy photographing my family (I’m a proud dad), documenting all of our memories.
FXW: Tell me about your production company. How did you get started with that?
Matt Giesow: VAST Media started about four years ago with a desire for me to create what could exist. We primarily focus within architecture and the real estate market. I have grown the business from a solo entrepreneur to a full team and a full service company now. It’s been amazing to be a part of it from day one—with the vision of the company—to now continuing to work within the company and have several people alongside me helping to move it forward.
FXW: What services do you provide?
Matt Giesow: VAST provides real estate listing marketing, brand advertising, and full-scale video production for anyone—from a business owner to a real estate agent to major organizations—that need to share their brand and story.
FXW: What else would you like people to know about VAST Media?
Matt Giesow: What I want people to know is that VAST Media is more than a single person with a camera. From the moment it launched, my goal was to make it not about me but about we. Often people get stuck relying on one solo creative. I wanted to create a brand that, no matter who showed up from my team, was consistent, and the brand was apparent—it’s all under one umbrella, and the product was not contingent upon a single person.
FXW: What made you pick up a Fujifilm camera?
Matt Giesow: Shooting with Sony cameras throughout most of my professional career, I always wondered about owning a Fuji. This last year I began to experiment with 35mm film photography. I realized very quickly that I love the process of shooting film, but I always want my images right away [laughter]. I found the solution to my problem on the Fuji X Weekly website, where I discovered Film Simulation Recipes. I began to see what shooters like me were doing to scratch that itch. I headed to eBay and quickly found an overpriced Fujifilm X100V and went for it. The X100V is my first and only Fujifilm camera at the moment.
FXW: What do you like most about it?
Matt Giesow: It’s been a dream to shoot with! So small—it’s a daily carry. I find myself pulling the car off numerous times throughout the day to get out and snap something that, in the past, I would have used my iPhone to capture. I love shooting straight out of camera with the film simulations baked in. It’s totally changed the way I shoot! Enjoying the process now, something that only 35mm film had given me before.
FXW: Which Film Simulation Recipes do you like best and why?
Matt Giesow: Classic Negative is my go-to recipe in most scenarios for color. It fits the vibe and style that for years I tried to edit my Sony photos to look like. It’s perfect for street photography, travel—the reds are just gorgeous! Reggie’s Portra and Kodak Gold 200 are some other big favorites. For black-and-white, Ilford XP2 Super 400 is my go-to for darker, punchier pictures, and Ilford HP5 Plus 400 is my favorite for slightly softer, less contrasty black and white photos.
FXW: How has using Fujifilm cameras impacted your professional photography and your personal photography?
Matt Giesow: Honestly, picking up a FujiFilm camera has been a breath of fresh air. Over the years I’ve invested a great deal in filling our gear lockers at VAST Media, but I’ve never had a personal connection with a camera quite like I do with my X100V. For me, shooting with a fixed focal length, and working so hard to nail the perfect shot in-camera is causing me to sharpen areas of my craft that I didn’t even realize were dull. This in turn has kindled a new passion for photography that makes me feel like I did back in the beginning. The X100V doesn’t replace my ”professional” arsenal, but it’s a happy addition to every set I am on. The ability to take incredible behind-the-scenes photos on-set straight out of camera and deliver something right to the client’s hands before leaving is something very new—and I love it!
FXW: In wrapping this up, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Matt Giesow: A big “thank you” to you, Ritchie, for Fuji X Weekly! The Fuji community is just a different breed—friendly, helpful, and encouraging. It’s so great.
FXW: Thanks again, Matt, for allowing me to interview you!
Matt Giesow: Cheers!
All of the photographs in this article are © Matt Giesow, who captured them using his Fujifilm X100V and various Film Simulation Recipes.
If you already know who Troy Paiva is and have seen his wonderful night photographs, then you are well aware of how important his work has been to the genres of light painting, urban exploration, and Americana photography. If you don’t know who Troy is… well, you will soon be initiated, and you can thank me later. “Every once in awhile an artist bursts forth with such a profound impact on a genre of art that it forever alters its course,” photographer Ken Lee stated in a Photofocus article. “Troy Paiva is one such artist.”
What Troy is most known for is nighttime light-painted photography of abandoned, forgotten, or neglected roadside Americana. He visits abandoned buildings and old junkyards and even airplane boneyards during full-moon darkness, capturing long-exposure images using artificial lights to add pops of color that aren’t naturally there. His striking pictures have been displayed in art galleries and museum exhibits, and printed in magazines and books, including a couple of Stephen King covers.
My introduction to Troy Paiva came through an unusual book: Weird Arizona. He was a contributor to it (plus some of the other books in that series), and it had a little Route 66 writeup by Troy that included a picture of an abandoned gas station with a strange red glow on the ceiling. Later, I found Troy on Flickr, and even corresponded with him briefly on the location of one of his photographs. I’ve been a big fan of his photography for over a decade; however, he’s been doing this whole light-painting thing since the late-1980’s, well before I stumbled across his fantastic images.
I interviewed Troy recently, and I’m very excited and honored to share it with you. This is a very important article, because I’m certain that many of you can relate to it—I know that I can! Perhaps, like me, you have piles of old slides and/or negatives stored in a box somewhere. Nobody ever sees those pictures. What do you do with them? They can’t be any good, can they? Are they worth the trouble to dig through and scan? Will anyone care about them if you do? Are they even worth keeping? What will eventually happen to them if you do nothing? Those are questions that Troy Paiva recently wrestled with, and I think his answers are both fascinating and inspiring.
FXW: Troy, I love your photography—your pictures and your process! I noticed that you have been revisiting your old analog images lately—daytime photos from the late 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. What made you dig out your old slides?
Troy: Earlier this year I bumped into a set of my images on Flickr—The Mojave Carhenge from 1992—that I had scanned ages ago. They looked bad, with low resolution and converted to B&W. I wanted to find those slides and rescan them, but I put it on the back burner. Later, I needed to re-up on the long-dormant software for my film scanner to do something for a friend, so I used that opportunity to finally dig out those slides—scanning and processing them using 2022 software and skills.
I was surprised by how my perception of those pictures had changed over the course of 30 years—how old and rare and cool the cars in it were. It was weirdly timeless, like it could have been shot in 1982 or even ’72. I put them on Facebook and I got a response that supported these feelings. I looked through a few more boxes of early ’90’s daytime slides—pictures that even I hadn’t seen since the early ’90’s—which seemed to generate the same level of surprise. It didn’t take me long to realize that I should keep going.
FXW: What camera gear did you use back then and what do you use now?
Troy: I’ve always shot with Canon cameras. In the early ’90’s it was a ’60’s vintage FX, an all-manual (broken) match-needle relic for night work, and A-1’s for metered shooting. I switched to the T90 in the late ’90’s—it was a great night shooting camera. I had several running different films. I used the FX forever, right up until 2004. Digitally, I went from the 20D to the 60D to the 6D. Once you night-shoot from a knee-high POV with a swivel screen, you never go back! All the film cameras were used—cheap. I’m pretty cavalier with equipment, and night photography has a way of wrecking and breaking your gear anyway.
In the ’90’s my lenses were constantly changing. All of them were purchased used, and lots of 3rd party junk. They’d fall apart, or get stuck on f/2.8 forever—especially the wide lenses from the early ’90’s, which were loose and wiggly in your hands and the focus fell off hard in the corners—and I’d buy another one for $25 at the flea market. All part of the character of the work: shooting junk with junk.
I used a mix of Ektachrome and Fujichrome, and a little Agfa, too. I would shoot with whatever slide film was on sale.
FXW: What drew you to your subjects back then?
Troy: A lot of the signage imagery stems from my MCM graphic design background. At the time I was working as a designer at Galoob Toys, making Micro Machine-sized gas stations and car washes. I was already obsessed with abandoned roadside long before I ever got to Galoob, and taking pictures of it—day or night—was a natural part of the headspace I occupied.
FXW: What is your process for digitalizing your slides? What challenges have you encountered?
Troy: I’ve had a Nikon IV ED film scanner since about 2001, which I’ve always used to scan my night work to put online. After moving into the digital era (in 2005), it sat largely unused. There was even a long period where it was unusable because Nikon stopped updating the software. Luckily, 3rd party software appeared at some point—I use the one from VueScan. The raw scans are not even close to right, but good enough to get them into Photoshop where I use MANY tools to make them presentable: masked sharpening/noise (grain) control, major HSB adjustments, white and black point shifts—the whole bit. Some also require perspective adjustment, cloning scratches out, creative cropping. Some mix down in a few minutes, some take a half hour to pull together.
FXW: What differentiates your daytime pictures from your night ones? What is surprising about it?
Troy: My daytime work was more about scouting locations to potentially come back and work later that night. Many of these subjects would have been impossible to do with my full moon technique because they’re bathed with sodium vapor streetlights. Or sometimes I’d get chased back to the car by dogs or some nut racking a shotgun. In many cases, the day shots are the only record.
The daytime work always took a back seat to my experimental night work, so I rarely showed it to anyone. It just sat in storage for 25, 30 years. Occasionally I’d pull some night work for a fresh scan, completely ignoring the daytime work. Why? I wish there was some smart-sounding “I was consciously playing the long game” answer, but, apparently, I was playing it unconsciously.
It’s a part of my photography that longtime followers of my night work have never seen. It mirrors it in many ways, yet doesn’t fall into the trap of having the “light-painted night” aspect take over what the picture is about. They are just “normal” pictures of things, and that makes them easier to conceptually digest.
Also, I’m still scanning. There’s a lot I haven’t even looked at yet. I am intentionally not going through everything at once. I grab a few boxes, or all the work from one trip—cull, scan, and process. Only then do I look at the next few rolls. The picture of my slides (below) isn’t even all of it—there are about 10 carousels full, too. A lot of it is personal things of no interest to anyone but me. Several boxes have nothing worth scanning, but some… every slide gets an “Oh, wow!” when I put it on the light box for the first time.
FXW: What did you discover through this project?
Troy: I discovered a body of work that almost feels like someone else shot it! Sometimes memories come flooding back as I look through them; for others, it’s, “Where was that again?”
My MO was to specifically shoot the once-loved things that looked like they were on their way out. Most of it was abandoned and heavily weathered, steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay. It turns out that my hit rate was good: it seems like 90% of these subjects are now irrevocably changed or just gone. I perform Google searches on most of the sites—looking for them on street view, images, etc.—and in many cases, there doesn’t appear to be any other “intentional” pictures of them made before they disappeared. I’ve run across a couple of motel signs where the only other picture that I could find is in the John Margolies collection in the Library of Congress. It seems like everybody shoots this kind of stuff now, but in the early ‘90s, it was rare and—frankly—kinda weird.
I haven’t parsed out what any of it means. I’m still in the middle of the scanning project, so I’m not ready to sit back and figure out what to do with it yet, except share some of it online and get it seen.
FXW: How important is it to revisit your old pictures?
Troy: Once I started to see how much of this rare imagery I had, I began to think of Vivian Maier and Charles Phoenix. Imagine finding this motherlode of daytime and weird night photography of the long lost American roadside in a dumpster behind a Salvation Army! If I didn’t scan and share it, someday when I die that mountain of boxed slides would either end up in the dump, or a thrift store to be found and exploited and re-contextualized by someone else. The 99.9% reality is that it would most likely end up in a landfill, never to be seen by anyone. Once I realized what I was sitting on, I didn’t want any of that to happen.
Time has a way of making ALL pictures better. They’re a record of a moment in time. That moment often seems inconsequential when it happens, but someday you may not be able to experience anything like that moment again because the place or people are gone, and the picture suddenly takes on different meanings that were hidden before. Ever notice when you look at really old magazines you tend to gloss over the articles and spend most of your time looking at the advertisements? The things we don’t think are important or historic now have a tendency to be the ones that end up being more interesting later.
I want to give a very big thanks to Troy Paiva for taking time out of his busy day to allow me to interview him and publish his words and photographs on Fuji X Weekly. Thank you, Troy! Many of these pictures have been shared on his social media pages, but a couple of them have never been published before, and you’re the very first (aside from Troy and now myself) to see them! To say that I feel honored is such an understatement.
My hope is that this article has encouraged you to take another look at the pictures you captured years and years ago. Maybe they have a different meaning today than the last time you saw them. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do your own project similar to Troy’s. It could be time to dust off that old scanner, or even buy a new one. I think this article also illustrates that the photography you’re doing right now is important, even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment. Keep at it, and in time you’ll see the significance of the pictures you captured today.
Please visit Troy Paiva’s website: LostAmerica.com. Find him on Facebook and Instagram. Buy his six books on Amazon: Lost America, Light Painted Night Photography: The Lost America Technique, Night Vision, Boneyard, Night Salvage, and Junkyard Nights (seriously, pick up one or more of those books—you’ll be glad that you did!).
More of Troy Paiva’s daytime photography:
All photographs © Troy Paiva
Instagram is a dying platform for photographers.
Still shocking to me, I’ve gotten a lot of followers on the Fuji X Weekly Instagram account over the last two years: over 25K right now! I topped 10K followers on May 11, 2021, and 25K on July 9, 2022—it has grown 150% in roughly 14 months. That’s amazing, and all thanks goes to you! I never thought that was possible.
When I reached 10K followers I signed up for a business account. While it certainly has its benefits, it also has one huge negative: Instagram wants me to pay them money to show you, my followers, my posts. They purposefully hide your content from your own followers—if someone seeks it out they will find it, but it won’t show up in their feed—unless you pay Instagram a fee. My engagement dropped in half the instant I signed up for the business account. You might think that engagement—likes, comments, shares, etc.—would have grown at the same rate as the followers, but not so. The average post at 25K has a similar engagement as a post at 10K prior to signing up for a business account. While my followers have increased by 150%, my engagement has only increased by 100%—back to where it was before Instagram cut it in half.
Instagram is a great place to feed your envy. There are people whose pictures suck that have 100K or more followers and are basically earning an income from Instagram. There are people who capture amazing pictures who have less than two hundred followers. I’ve seen both of those circumstances personally, and maybe you have, too. Now I’m not the world’s greatest photographer by any means. I see many, many photographers who are more talented than I who have fewer followers, and I also see the opposite, too. Nobody’s self-worth should come from Instagram, and the followers and engagement (or lack of it) don’t actually mean anything. Unfortunately, it’s more of a popularity contest than anything else; however, Instagram is a good way to connect with others across the world.
Once upon a time Instagram was the place to see wonderful photographs. You could find a lot of inspiration. It still is, but less so now. Why? Instagram (which is owned by Facebook/Meta) recently claimed that engagement in still photographs is down nearly 50% over the last two years, so that’s why they’re focusing on video. I call B.S. on this.
I know two things: Instagram will hide your content if they want to, and Instagram (Meta, actually) doesn’t like competition. Whenever a new social media app comes along that Meta perceives as a threat, they buy it; if they can’t buy it, they make their own version of it to incorporate into their own apps. Right now that competition is TikTok, and since Meta can’t buy it (I’m sure they tried at one point), they’re becoming “TikTok” in order to win—at the expense of you, the photographer.
I believe that Instagram has put into place algorithms to suppress still photography and simultaneously push video content (Reels, as they call it). Then they say that still photography is dying and video is booming, so they need to be video-centric. They’re paying people money to publish videos. I’m not a video guy myself, but by far my most popular post on Instagram is a Reel, with triple the engagement of my most popular still-photography post. Is it because you all are more interested videos, or because Instagram wants you to be more interested in video? In my opinion they’re trying to transform their app into TikTok, which means that photography needs to take a back seat.
You can still be successful on Instagram as a photographer. Since Instagram is pushing Reels so hard, you might consider using those to show your pictures (instead of a traditional post, or in addition to it). I’m personally not a fan of what Instagram is becoming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. A lot of people have discovered my Film Simulation Recipes through Instagram. I’ve made a lot of connections (I get about 50 DMs on IG each day!), and even made some friends. There are definitely still some positives.
I do think the time is ripe for an Instagram-alternative for photographers. I know that many have tried, and no one has really succeeded. I don’t know what its unique shtick should be, but there has to be something that sets it apart. Money is obviously an obstacle, because everyone wants a free app, but an app like that would be expensive to produce and maintain. I don’t have the solution, but I do know that an opportunity exists right now for someone who thinks that they might have the solution.
Now it’s your turn! Do you like or dislike how Instagram is evolving? Would you try an Instagram alternative if there was a good one? Is there a current app that you prefer to Instagram and why? Let me know in the comments!
Arizona gets summer thunderstorms. If you are not from this region you might be surprised to learn that on average one-in-five days are rainy in Phoenix during the months of July and August. The thunderstorms come suddenly and can be intense. Flash flooding is common in the desert. They call this Monsoon, which roughly translates to stormy season or perhaps more simply weather or season, depending on who you ask.
One of these Monsoon thunderstorms hit the house hard last night. The wind was strong, the rain was pouring, and the streets turned into streams. Things toppled over in the yard. Branches broke off of trees. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. It was kind of scary for a few moments.
I snapped a high-ISO image of the mayhem from safely inside the house. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, which isn’t the greatest low-light combo, so I used a window frame to help stabilize the camera for the 1/5 second exposure. I had my Nostalgic Print Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera; however, after the fact I thought it would look better in black-and-white, so I reprocessed the RAW file in-camera to the Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe.
I went to bed while the storm was still raging, but when I awoke this morning all was calm. It was a peaceful morning. The sun was shining. The wind was still. Birds were chirping. Everything seemed normal, except for what needed to be cleaned up—a task that didn’t take long—and I was able to enjoy the moment while sipping a cup of coffee.
This made me think of life. Sometimes the metaphoric storms rage, and it can be kind of scary. But once these storms-of-life pass—and they will pass—we can enjoy a moment of peace. The sun will shine again. The flowers will bloom. I think it’s important to take in the calm that comes after the storm. It’s inevitable that more storms will come; perhaps they’re easier to weather when we can remember the calm that comes after. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Yeah, you might have some junk to clean up, but then take a moment to appreciate the peaceful morning.
This article doesn’t have much to do with photography, but I hope that it is encouraging to some of you nonetheless. If there is a way to make this more photography-related, it is this: no matter if it is stormy in your life or a peaceful morning, get your camera and capture pictures. Expressing yourself through your images can be therapeutic, and there are many valuable lessons that could be learned.
Even though they can be scary, Monsoon thunderstorms are necessary for life in Arizona. They provide much-needed water to a parched land. They produce cooler temperatures on scorching days. The land becomes more lush and green in its wake. Similarly, your personal storms-of-life, although they’re awful to experience, can make you stronger and better, and perhaps are what will propel you forward to whatever is waiting for you tomorrow.
Leigh & Raymond Photography (formally known as The Snap Chick) dropped a video with a wonderful shoutout to my RitchieCam iPhone camera App! You’ll find the video above—RitchieCam is mentioned at about the 11-minute mark. Wow! Really, wow! I’m speechless. Thank you, Leigh and Raymond, for your kindness and support!
For those who don’t know, RitchieCam is an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. There are 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. It is intended to be simple enough to be useful for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, although it is robust enough that even seasoned photographers should find it satisfying. Visit RitchieCam.com to learn more. Also, be sure to follow RitchieCam on Instagram!
If you have an iPhone, download RitchieCam from the Apple App Store today!
Here are some photographs that I recently captured with the RitchieCam App while visiting California’s central coast:
Yesterday, I did a photowalk around Gilbert, Arizona, with my Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm f/2.8. Inspired by the Route 66: Sun n Sand Motel — Trying Recipes (That Are Not Mine…) article that I published a couple of days ago, I loaded five Film Simulation Recipes that I didn’t create into my camera to try out. This post is the result of that exercise.
I found these recipes at various places across the web. The first is “Classic Neg Fade” by Luis Costa, which can be found on his website, Life, Unintended. The second is “Chrome Urban” by Jamie Chance, which can be found on his website, Jamie Chance Travels. For his recipe, I set Color Chrome Effect & Color Chrome FX Blue to Off and Clarity to -2. Next is “Diffused Chrome” by Toqeer Sethi, which can be found on the Fuji X Weekly Community Recipe page. Then there’s “Soft Cinnamon” by Justin Gould, which can be found on his website, Film.Recipes. Finally, there’s “AstiAmore” by Thomas Schwab, which can be found on the Fuji X Weekly Community Recipe page. There are, of course, many other sources on the internet where you can find Film Simulation Recipes.
I chose these specific ones simply because they seemed interesting to me, so I wanted to try them out for myself. And they’re each good. I don’t know if I used them in the situations where they work best—for example, “Diffused Chrome” seems to be more intended for night photography (yet, in daylight, it produces a soft Kodak-negative-like aesthetic). I ended up using “Soft Cinnamon” the most, although not necessarily on-purpose. “AstiAmore” is one I’ve tried before, but wanted to use again.
I’ve been thinking about community a lot lately. Oxford Languages defines “community” as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common interests….” Within the photographic realm, I do believe there’s no greater feeling of fellowship than that of those who share the common interest of Fujifilm X cameras. Yet we’re all strangers—perhaps you know a few other Fujifilm photographers, but most of us have never met. I want to do my part to foster this Fujifilm fellowship, but I’m not exactly sure what that means right now. Like a surfer who feels the wave building even before it can be seen, I feel that something is brewing, but I just can’t see it yet—I don’t have a clear vision of what it will look like.
All of this was in my mind as I received feedback from yesterday’s post, Is Fujifilm Losing Its Soul? Because that article got shared around the web (I wouldn’t call it “viral” but it did receive a lot of attention), there were non-Fuji X Weekly people commenting and messaging me. Some of it was good input, but some of it was just downright mean and nasty (you won’t find it because I deleted it). Websites like PetaPixel, DPReview, and even sadly Fujirumors, are crawling with trolls, yet this website has largely remained troll-free (yea!). Occasionally one comes along, but it’s pretty rare; however, when articles get shared to the general photographic community, sometimes nasty parasites come with that, unfortunately. I almost let that negativity stop me from sharing this article; thankfully, I didn’t. I’m privileged and honored to be part of this community, which is you guys and gals, because you are good people.
I hope that this “feeling of fellowship” can grow stronger. I think it has to go beyond the anonymity of the internet, beyond our phones and computers, and be more personal. I don’t have the “how” worked out, but perhaps that’s just around the corner. I feel the first step that I can take right now is this article, which is an impromptu casual collaboration with you. I’m always quite busy, but I hope to do more of this in the coming days, weeks, and months if I can. If there’s a particular Film Simulation Recipe that you’d like me to try, post a link to it in the comments.
“The first recipe on my camera right now….” —Luis Costa
“This setting has grown without doubt into my favorite, every day, go-to simulation.” —Jamie Chance
“This recipe has been created to be used with a fast prime to keep the noise level down….” —Toqeer Sethi
“A gentle recipe with a subtle cinnamon tone to the neutrals. Delicious!” —Justin Gould
“This recipe is a modification of Ritchie’s original Kodak Ektar 100 recipe.” —Thomas Schwab
If you don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App on your phone, download it for free today (Android, iOS)! For those who are Fuji X Weekly App Patrons, you can use the Blank Recipe Card feature to manually input recipes into the App, so if you like any or all of the ones above, you can save them to your phone and take them with you on the go. Also, if you have an iPhone, check out RitchieCam!
The possible number of potential Film Simulation Recipes is almost unlimited. For example, on my Fujifilm X-E4, there are 750 different Kelvin White Balance options that could be selected, and 361 unique White Balance Shifts that could be assigned to each of those different Kelvin options, which means that, if all other settings were identical, you could create over 270,000 different recipes just by changing the White Balance and Shift. Granted, many would look extremely similar to others, but they’d be at least a little different. My point is that there can be millions and millions of potential recipes for Fujifilm cameras, particularly the newer cameras which have more JPEG options. I’ve “only” created just under 250 recipes for Fujifilm cameras—I’ve barely scratched the surface!
Some of you have created your own Film Simulation Recipes. A handful of you have even had your recipes included on this website and in the Fuji X Weekly App. I love that you are diving into your camera settings, getting creative, and sharing the results with the community—it’s all so wonderful! I’m very honored to be a part of all this, and to have a front-row seat.
I’ve shared before where you can find many of these Film Simulation Recipes that were created by others (recipes that are not by me), but today I want to point you to some specific ones: “C1 Classic Neg” by Luis Costa (Life, Unintended), “Aged Negative” by Justin Gould (Fuji X Weekly Community Recipes), and “Kodak Portra 66” by Justin Gould (Film.Recipes). Why these ones? They looked particularly interesting to me for the subject that I wanted to use them for.
The photographs in this article were not captured with these recipes, but instead were RAW files reprocessed in-camera to apply the recipes to exposures already captured. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm lens (originally with my Fujicolor Natura 1600 recipe) to photograph the burnt Sun n Sand motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. This hotel first opened along Route 66 in the 1950’s, had major renovations in the late-1990’s, and closed for good in 2013 after a severe storm caused major damaged. Apparently homeless moved in after it closed, and sometime later (although I couldn’t find exactly when) fire damaged much of the property. It seems to be in the process of being demolished, albeit slowly. The Sun n Sand motel has been left in a sad state, and the opportunities to photograph this somewhat-iconic site along The Mother Road are fleeting. I’m glad that I had the opportunity.
“Ironically, I think it resembles Slide film much more than Negative film!” —Luis Costa
“It reminds me of prints I made from 35mm film in the 1980s.” —Justin Gould
“Some things seem to be made to go together, and in our world of film simulations and recipes, it’s Kodak Portra and fading Americana.” —Justin Gould
If any (or all) of these Film Simulation Recipes look interesting to you, please visit Luis’ and Justin’s websites—they have many more! I haven’t personally used most of them, but there are plenty that look pretty good to me, based off of the sample pictures. I’m sure many of you will appreciate them. If you have the Fuji X Weekly App, tap the circle-with-dots icon at the top-right, and you can manually add these (or any other recipes) into the App, if you want to take them with you on the go. Don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App? Download it for free today!
This review of the Moment Tele 58mm cellphone lens is long overdue. When I started developing the RitchieCam iPhone camera app about a year ago, I figured it would be a good idea to get some external lenses for my iPhone 11, which would come in handy when needing to capture the example pictures. While there are a number of companies that offer lenses that can be attached to your cellphone, the Moment offerings stood out to me as the “better” option, so that’s what I chose.
To use Moment’s lenses, you must also use their phone case, because that’s how the lenses mount to your phone. They have a case for many phone makes and models, so there’s a good chance there’s one available for your device. The case is good quality, and has survived nearly a year of heavy use and abuse. I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve dropped my phone and thought it was done for, yet it survived unscathed, without even a scratch! While I’m sure there are cases that offer more protection, I’m pretty darn impressed with how good the Moment case has been.
One cool thing about the Moment case is that it has the “MagSafe” stuff built-in. I have this tripod-mount accessory that attaches to the case (via magnetism), which has come in handy a number of times. It’s a really good method to mount your cellphone to a tripod, if that’s something you do. There are a number of other accessories that you can buy that also use magnets to attach to your case, but the only one that I personally have used is that tripod accessory.
I had never used an external lens before with a cellphone, so I was definitely a novice when I started—I didn’t really realize how it all worked. On my iPhone 11 case, the lens mounts only over the main camera. The iPhone 11 has two rear facing cameras: 1x (26mm full-frame-equivalent) and 0.5x (13mm full-frame-equivalent). The Moment lenses cannot mount over the 13mm lens, only over the 26mm lens.
I have two Moment lenses: 18mm and 58mm. The Moment lenses are actually “conversion” lenses, and the millimeter numbers don’t actually mean anything. The 18mm is a 0.5x wide conversion lens, and the 58mm is a 2x tele conversion lens. Using the 18mm lens on the 26mm camera actually makes it 13mm, which is the same focal length of the second camera. In other words, the 18mm lens is pointless for the iPhone 11; however, I’m sure it makes sense for other cellphones. The 58mm lens makes the main camera 52mm, which is a very useful focal-length. The focal-length that these lenses will be on your cellphone depends on the focal-length of the cameras on your cellphone (either times by .5 for the 18mm lens or times by 2 for the 58mm lens). Clear as mud? I think if Moment had simply called the one lens 2x teleconverter and the other .5x wide-converter (instead of using millimeter numbers) it would save a lot of confusion. As you can imagine, the Moment Tele 58mm lens is the one that I used by far the most.
Initially I was disappointed by these lenses. I think my expectations were significantly askew. I figured that I’d be impressed by the image quality when using these lenses vs. not using them; however, the image quality will never be greater than that of the lens permanently attached to your cellphone. These lenses won’t improve on what the manufacturer installed on your device. Instead, what you get is either a longer or more wide-angle focal length without a loss in image quality. It’s much better to use the 58mm lens than “zoom by cropping” (a.k.a. digital zoom). The image quality produced by these lenses is determined mostly by the image quality produced by your phone.
The reason to use the Moment Tele 58mm lens is to double the reach of your built-in cellphone lens without degrading the image quality (or, if it does degrade the image quality, it’s extraordinarily minimal and not really noticeable). That’s what this lens does, and it does it well. It doesn’t do much else, so keep your expectations in check.
When I carry the 58mm lens with me, I get three focal-length options on my iPhone 11: 13mm (using the 0.5x camera), 26mm (using the 1x camera without the Moment lens), and 52mm (using the 1x camera with the 58mm lens). Those are all excellent focal-lengths to have available. While I prefer to use my Fujifilm cameras over my cellphone, as Chase Jarvis coined, the best camera is the one you have with you, which is sometimes my cellphone. When I do use my cellphone for photography, I appreciate having the Moment Tele 58mm lens, because it affords me additional flexibility.
I said two paragraphs ago that this lens “doesn’t do much else” which isn’t completely true. There’s a small amount of pincushion distortion, which, when combined with the distortion in the iPhone 11 camera, can do some weird things to straight lines when photographing brick walls. The solution: don’t photograph brick walls. There’s also some interesting lens flare that shows up sometimes (see picture below), which I personally like, but maybe you won’t, depending on how you feel about lens flare. The Moment lens is also softer in the corners than the 1x iPhone camera.
The build quality of the Moment Tele 58mm lens is excellent, made of metal and glass. It has six elements in four groups, and the glass has multi-layered anti-reflective coating. It comes with a lens cap and carrying bag. The lens is small enough that you can easily take it with you, although when attached to the phone, it’s unlikely that the phone will fit into your pocket (unless you have particularly large pockets).
I have used the Moment Tele 58mm lens for nearly a year now. It’s not an essential cellphone accessory, but it’s certainly nice to have around. I found the lens and the Moment case (that you are required to have in order to use the lens)—plus the tripod-mount accessory—to be useful to me. If you do a lot of cellphone photography, you might want to take a closer look at these Moment products, and consider if they might be useful to you, too. Like a lot of things in the photography world, these products are not cheap, but if you think you’ll use them regularly, they might very well be worth the cost. The best place to find these products is on Moment’s website.
What is RitchieCam? It’s an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. You’ll find 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. I think you will appreciate the app, yet it is designed for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and not just photographers. You can read all about it at RitchieCam.com. The app is intended to be a useful free tool, yet for $9.99 (USD +Tax annually) you can unlock all of the filters and features for the best app experience.
The seventh issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the June issue? The cover story is Culleoka Kodachrome, which is a photography project that I undertook last month while in rural Texas using the Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe. There are a total of 28 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!
If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first six issues, too!