15 Frames: Abandoned Gas Station in Claude, Texas — Fujifilm X-E4 + Fujicolor Natura 1600 Recipe

Out of Gas – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

While traveling through the Texas panhandle back in May, I stumble upon an abandoned gas station in Claude, Texas—a small community outside of Amarillo. While you’d miss the town if you blinked, this old service station caught my eye with its aged pumps and metal roof. U.S. Highway 287 cuts right through town, and thousands of travelers pass by each day, yet most probably don’t notice this place, and I doubt very many stop to take a closer look. I’m drawn to abandoned buildings, so I immediately noticed, and of course stopped to capture it with my camera.

I used my Fujifilm X-E4 camera with the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens to photograph the forgotten gas station. This combination is perfect for travel photography, and I used it a lot on this particular road trip—not just at this one stop, but at many, many others. I had the Fujicolor Natura 1600 Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera, which has quickly become one of my favorite color recipes. Because I shoot with recipes, I no longer edit my pictures (aside from some minor cropping and straightening), which saves me tons of time. I captured so many pictures on this road trip that I filled up a 128GB SD card (and then some!)—I couldn’t imagine having to post-process all of the RAW files; instead, my photographs are already finished as soon as they’re captured.

I didn’t stay long in Claude. Like many west Texas small towns, there’s a lot of photographic potential, as there is a lot of character and forgotten history. I could have captured even more while I was there, but I had somewhere to be, so I left satisfied that I documented this interesting old gas station while it still remains standing. Even in rural towns, progress eventually catches up, and relics are demolished, so opportunities are fleeting. Besides, I might never pass through Claude again, but if I do, I will definitely have a camera ready.

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Opportunity, Lost – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Old & New – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Sign Remains – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Regular – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Zeros – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Rusted Can – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Tired Tree – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Someone Give Me A Ladder – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Tree & A/C – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
JCT 207 – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Pump – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Copy – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Messy Office – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Sense of Humor – Claude, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 27mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

Vintage Lens: Vivitar 135mm F/2.8

I picked up a vintage Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens at an antique store in Texas for $15. It was not well taken care of, with scratches on the glass and dust inside of it, but definitely still in usable condition. My copy of this lens is M42-mount, and I just so happen to have an M42-to-Fuji-X adapter that I’ve owned for several years now, which allows me to attach this lens to my Fujifilm X-E4.

Vivitar lenses are interesting because Vivitar didn’t actual make lenses. They contracted with other manufacturers (most you’ve probably never heard of, but a few you have) to produce lenses for them. My copy was made in 1978 by Komine (as indicated by the serial number), which has been regarded as one of the “better” Vivitar manufacturers. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of inconsistency with Vivitar lenses, but they’re generally regarded as decent, and sometimes good. My copy of the 135mm f/2.8 seems to be good, despite the wear.

One thing that’s surprising is how small the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens is despite its long telephoto reach. With the adapter attached to it, it’s still smaller than the Fujinon 90mm f/2. Fujifilm doesn’t have a prime lens that’s longer than the 90mm, except for the really big and expensive 200mm f/2, so the 135mm fills a gap in the Fujinon lineup. Really, Fujifilm should consider adding a prime lens that’s longer than 90mm, such as a 135mm f/2.8. Because of the crop-factor, this lens is full-frame equivalent to 202.5mm on my X-E4, which makes it great for wildlife or headshots, but challenging for other types of photography. Because of the focal length, unless your camera has IBIS, I recommend using a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 to ensure sharp photographs.

On my copy, the aperture ring, which has 1/2 stop clicks (that used to be common, but nowadays 1/3 intermediate stops are most common), works perfect, and the minimum aperture is f/22. The focus ring is smooth—a dream to use—and the minimum focus distance is about five feet.

The image quality produced by this lens is interesting. I’m not sure if it is the scratches and dust, or if it is simply the design of the lens, but there’s a slight “romantic softness” to the pictures. It seems to have slightly less micro-contrast compared to many of the lenses that I’ve used. It’s very reminiscent of what you get when you use a diffusion filter. I actually really like it, except for when the sun is near the frame, because the glare can be intense. I read that chromatic aberrations can be quite pronounced, but my copy doesn’t appear to be prone to it… or else the camera is automatically taking care of it behind the scenes.

I love going to antique stores and flea markets to find cheap treasures like the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens. It’s not for use all of the time, but this lens can be a lot of fun and highly rewarding⁠—I’m so glad that I found it and took a chance on it. For $15, I really couldn’t be happier⁠—probably the best $15 I’ve ever spent on photography!

Some pictures that I captured with the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens on my Fujifilm X-E4:

Urban Cycling – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600
Chevy Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Classic Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Green – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Concrete Steps – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Urbanscaped – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
High Rise – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
3 Lamps – Vernon, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Old House Roofline – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Ballyhoo – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Golden Lake – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Lake Sunset – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

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Creative Collective 024: FXW Zine — Issue 07 — June 2022

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!

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Photograph Wherever You Are — Seeing the Extraordinary in the Mundane

Two Caballeros – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”

I had an epiphany today. It’s been building in my mind for several days now, but it was only today that I believe I fully understood it: photograph wherever you are. Whichever place it is that you find yourself, capture it with your camera.

When I was 16-years-old, my family moved to a small unincorporated community in Texas called Culleoka, which is north of Dallas near Lake Lavon. At that time it was in the middle of nowhere—and it still is—but the city has been inching closer and closer, and is now at its doorstep. I finished high school while there and enrolled in college. I studied photography for two years before leaving home—and Texas—at 19. That was a long time ago; however, my parents still live in the same house in Culleoka.

I bring up all of this because I realized that, despite learning photography while I lived there, and despite all of the times that I’ve visited over the years, I’ve never photographed Culleoka. I never thought this place was photographically interesting. I always traveled elsewhere with my camera, whether it was McKinney, Plano, Dallas, or any number of other towns in the region. I never photographed where I lived.

Courtesy Dock Closed – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”

Visiting my parents now, for some reason—maybe because I’m older—I find Culleoka to be a much more interesting place. Yes, there’s still not much to see. If you blinked while driving through you’d miss it. There’s a gas station. A Dollar General, which is a fairly new addition. An auto body shop. A fireworks stand. A couple of churches. Maybe a couple hundred people live in Culleoka, many in mobile homes. There’s access to Lake Lavon at the far edge.

I regret now not photographing where I was, because there’s actually a lot of opportunity, if only I had had an open mind. I didn’t see it before. I just thought it was a boring place. Those “other places” were much more fascinating. I had to drive somewhere else to capture interesting pictures. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you believe that wherever it is you are isn’t worth your camera’s attention, and because you see it day in and day out it is difficult to view it with fresh eyes.

How do you view a highly familiar location with fresh eyes? For me, I think it was just being away for a few years. Actually, I saw some interesting sunlight on the gas station, and a lightbulb went off in my mind. I was reminded of Wim Winders book Written in the West, which inspired me to photograph Culleoka using my Fujifilm X-E4 programmed with the Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe. Some ideas are to envision yourself as a tourist experiencing the place for the first time, simply keeping a photographic eye out for interesting light, or reading photography books where some pictures are similar to your current location.

W.S.C. – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”

Just because you believe that where you are is uninteresting, doesn’t mean there aren’t things worth photographing. You have to keep a constant eye out. Maybe you need to view it through a fresh perspective. Perhaps you just need to get out with your camera on a regular basis and keep at it until you finally “see it” as some new inspiration hits you—I think just getting out with your camera is the best advice that I have.

Don’t be like me and fail to photograph where you are. Just because you don’t think it is worthwhile doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile—with a fresh perspective, you’re likely to find things that actually are interesting, things you maybe passed by hundreds of times and it never caught your attention. You have a great opportunity, and perhaps an interesting series of pictures will emerge from it.

It’s an easy trap to think that you have to go someplace else in order to capture interesting pictures. I certainly believed that for awhile, even though I used to say that the job of a photographer is to find the extraordinary in the mundane. I didn’t always practice what I preached—I assumed that where I was wasn’t interesting enough—but my statement was correct: it’s my job to find what others overlook in the places I find myself, and create compelling pictures with my camera. I hope that I’ve accomplished that this time around.

Some of the pictures that I captured in Colleoka, Texas, over the last few days:

Abandoned Houses – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”
Boaters Warning – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”
Man at Lake Lavon – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”
Abandoned Shack – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”
Red Taco Trailer – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”


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Travel: Big Steak at The Big Texan – Amarillo, Texas

72 Once Competitor – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600

As you might know, I’m currently on a road trip. We passed through Amarillo, Texas, and stopped at The Big Texan restaurant for dinner. The Big Texan is famous for their 72 ounce steak that, if you can eat it in under an hour, is free. Most who attempt it don’t succeed. I didn’t try, but someone did while I was there, which was neat to see. I don’t know if he was successful or not because he was still at it when I left.

I always try to carry around a camera, because you never know when a photographic opportunity will present itself. If I don’t have a Fujifilm camera with me, I have RitchieCam on my iPhone (if you have an iPhone, be sure to download the app!) or a Ricoh GR. On this occasion I had my Fujifilm X-E4 with the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 attached to it, which is a great combination for travel! I snapped a few pictures while I was at The Big Texan, mostly while waiting for our table to be ready.

A restaurant might not seem like a good place for photography. This spot, which is along old Route 66, is quirky and fun, and anyplace that’s quirky and fun is likely to produce at least one good picture. The Big Texan didn’t disappoint, photographically and taste-wise. The food was delicious! The portions were Texas-sized. The photographs turned out alright I think.

I published last year my “ultimate” travel kit, which consists of a small camera bag, with the Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujifilm X100V inside. This is perfect to ensure that I have a camera with me all of the time, so that I don’t miss any opportunities to capture interesting pictures. You never know what you’ll find, so it’s best to be ready for anything—even a quirky steak restaurant in Amarillo, Texas.

Steak Makers – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Underneath the Table – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Metal Hook – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Fenced Sun – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – Upcoming Recipe
Worth One in the Hand – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Junk Monkey – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Vivid Velvia

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 4 – East Texas

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Grain Hoppers – Westlake, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 377

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  Oklahoma (Color)  Oklahoma (B&W)  Wyoming

Visiting east Texas was in a way a homecoming for me–well, sort of, anyway. I lived in the Dallas area for a few years as a teenager. I lived in Houston for one year awhile back, as well. I have family on the right side of the state, and I’ve journeyed to see them many times over the years. It’s in east Texas that I first learned to be a photographer. I’m familiar with the region, to say the least.

This trip was about spending time with family. It was about being with people that I don’t see often enough. Photography was secondary, although I did find plenty of time for capturing images. By a large margin I spent more time in east Texas than anywhere else on this road trip, yet this part of the series seems short on pictures.

The highways that I traversed in east Texas were often wide and new. They connected cities and large towns. Sure, there were plenty of rural segments, but I saw a lot of suburban landscapes. There’s a lot more sprawl than I remember, and it served as a reminder that it had been too long since I last visited the place, and I need to return more frequently.

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Storm Shelter – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

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Two Towers – Dallas, TX – Fujifilm X100F – TX HWY 366

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Walk This Way – Princeton, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

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A Little Birdie Told Me About The Brew – Westlake, TX – Fuji X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 377

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Trash Pallet – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 3 – West Texas

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Cadillac Spray Cans – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm – I-70 / Route 66

Colorado  New Mexico  East Texas  Oklahoma In Color  Oklahoma in B&W  Wyoming

West Texas is vast and empty. There are small towns scattered around, most of which have seen better days, and a few larger cities. But, for the most part, there’s a whole lot of nothing. It’s a rural life that’s lived here, and that is likely an understatement.

You might think that the opening paragraph was written with a negative tone, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m actually quite fascinated with the region, and I’d love to spend some significant time photographing it. Each little town offers something of photographic interest. There’s something that draws me in. There’s a story to tell.

My photography instructor in collage was June Van Cleef. Her most important work was capturing the life and times of rural west Texas. She spent years in the small dusty towns that seemed to be barely hanging on, camera in hand, capturing the people who called the place home. Perhaps it’s her perspective that I took away from those many months in her classroom.

I don’t have a real draw to west Texas other than I can clearly see the photographic potential. I have never made the time to act on that potential. Like most people, I just pass through on the way to somewhere else. That’s what highways are good for: taking you someplace else. Like all the times before, I came and went quickly, and saw the view from behind the car windshield. Someday, though, I will take my time and immerse myself in capturing this rural land. I hope to, anyway.

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Cans & Cars – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm – I-70 / Route 66

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Ex Lover – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X100F – I-70 / Route 66

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Def Bus – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X100F – I-70 / Route 66

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No Truck Parking – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Steel Snowman – Childress, TX – Fuji X100F – US HWY 287

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Potted Flag – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Rural Ranch – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Truck Stop – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287