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.
Pawhuska is a small town in rural Oklahoma with about 3,500 residents. The town saw its heyday over 100 years ago when there was an oil boom—people and money poured into the area, and for a short time Pawhuska was bustling; however, the Great Depression left a large permanent scar, and the town never recovered. Over the last five years Pawhuska has seen new life, thanks to “The Pioneer Woman” who has turned this quaint town into a tourist destination of sorts. People come from all over the country—maybe the world—to visit The Mercantile, my wife and I included!
Just a couple of weeks ago, on another epic family road trip, we passed through Pawhuska again. This time I used my Kodachrome 64 recipe, which is based on the “third era” of Kodachrome film, which was from 1974 through 2009. The Kodachrome 64 recipe also produces a vintage-Kodak-slide aesthetic, but it definitely looks different than the Kodachrome II recipe. I used a Fujifilm X-E4 on this visit, and I didn’t capture nearly as many frames of Kodachrome 64 as I did of Kodachrome II on the previous trip.
“You’ve got to go back to get the good ones,” photographer Chuck Abbott stated in the September 1955 issue of Arizona Highways magazine. His point was that good photographers return to a location or subject over and over. Don’t be satisfied with the pictures that you’ve captured in the past; try instead at a different time of day, in a different season, under different light, and from a different angle. Maybe you’ll make a more compelling picture on a future endeavor. I don’t know that I did any better the second time than I did the first, but I did go back, and I do like a few of the frames.
I love road trips! Given the choice to drive or fly, I’ll pick drive every time. Unfortunately, when I’m trying to get somewhere by car, I’m often trying to get there, wherever “there” is, and I don’t spend enough time enjoying the in-between. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously stated, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Dan Eldon shortened it to, “The journey is the destination.” What makes a road trip special is not where you’re going, but the experiences along the way.
This photoessay series is entitled The Journey is the Destination, and includes pictures of those in-between places. Each article in this series will have a different theme. This one is called Lodging Locations, and it features photographs captured at sleep stops while on some adventure somewhere. I’m usually pretty eager to photograph when on road trips, so even moments of rest get the attention of my camera lens.
One challenge with this particular article is that it includes hotels, campgrounds, family houses, and AirBnBs. With such diverse sleeping arrangements, it’s difficult to create a consistent set (not to mention that I used many different film simulation recipes to capture these over several years). Each of the images in the post were captured while at a lodging location of some sort. I don’t like this set as much as the first two, but nonetheless I hope that you find some enjoyment or inspiration from it.
I love road trips! Given the choice to drive or fly, I’ll pick drive every time. Unfortunately, when I’m trying to get somewhere by car, I’m often trying to get there, wherever “there” is, and I don’t spend enough time enjoying the in-between. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously stated, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Dan Eldon shortened it to, “The journey is the destination.” What makes a road trip special is not where you’re going, but the experiences along the way.
This photoessay series is entitled The Journey is the Destination, and includes pictures of those in-between places. Each article in this series will have a different theme. This one is called Time to Eat, and it features photographs captured at food stops while on some adventure somewhere. I’m usually pretty eager to photograph when on road trips, so even breakfast, lunch or dinner gets the attention of my camera lens.
You won’t see any pictures of my food—that’s not the point of this article—these are simply photographs that I captured at these restaurant stops. If I had started out with this series in mind, I probably would have approached it a little differently. Still, when placed together, these otherwise unrelated images tell a story. I hope that you enjoy!
In my kit are two Fujifilm cameras: an X100V and an X-E4. The X100V is capable of saving seven recipes, while the X-E4 is capable of saving eight, which means that I could have had as many as 15 different film simulations ready-to-go between the two cameras! Of course, with the Fuji X Weekly app, I had access to many, many more, which I could have quickly programmed if I had wanted to. I ended up using 10 different recipes: two on my X100V and eight on my X-E4.
While I could have used as many as 15 recipes, and I ended up using 10, I think no more than eight film simulation recipes for one trip might be a better strategy. It would have made a lot of sense to have the same ones programmed into both cameras, just for consistency. Still, it’s fun to see how different recipes do in various situations, so maybe consistency isn’t as big of a deal as enjoyment is—there’s something to be said for both, so maybe it’s important to find the right balance, and that number is likely different for each person.
On my Fujifilm X100V I had seven film simulation recipes programmed into the camera, but I only used two on this trip. I ended up using the X100V a lot less than I thought I would, mostly because the X-E4 had just arrived, and I was trying to put it through its paces. If I had shot with the X100V more, I likely would have used more than just two recipes with it. On my next trip I plan to program the two cameras with, for the most part, the same recipes.
Of the eight film simulation recipes that I programmed into the X-E4, two are currently early-access recipes only available to Fuji X Weekly Patrons on the Fuji X Weekly app: Vintage Negative and Lomochrome Metropolis. These two recipes will eventually be free to everyone, but right now only Patrons can access them.
The recipes that I used the most are Fujicolor Superia 800, Kodachrome 64, and Kodak Tri-X 400. If I only used those three for the trip, I would have been happy, I think. But it’s fun to try different ones. For example, Lomochrome Metropolis and B&W IR aren’t always easy to use, but in the right situations they can produce stellar results.
I recently set out to create an “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit.
Over the last couple of years, as I’ve collected more and more gear, traveling with my cameras and lenses has become cumbersome, which has lead to frustrations and reduced productivity. More isn’t always better; in fact, less is often more—this is especially true when traveling. I realized that my gear wasn’t nearly as ready for adventure as I was, and I needed to make some series changes to my kit before embarking on my next road trip.
What makes a travel kit bad? If it’s big and heavy and gets in the way, it’s not good. My travel kit consisted of a backpack camera bag filled with multiple bodies and as many lenses as I could stuff inside. I went to Montana last fall, and in my bag there was an X-T1, X-T30, X100V, and X-M1, plus a handful of lenses, including the Fujinon 100-400mm and Fujinon 90mm, which aren’t small or lightweight. I hardly used any of them, except for the X100V, which I could easily carry with me, and so I did. Because I had it with me, I used it often. The rest of the gear just got in the way—literally, the backpack took up too much space in the car, and it become a point of frustration. I would have been better off just bringing one or two cameras and maybe a few small lenses—gear that might have actually been used.
I was afraid that if I didn’t have a certain camera or lens, I would regret not bringing it, if at some point I thought I might need it. You never know what you’ll need, so it’s better to be prepared, right? What I discovered over the last few trips is that the majority of what I was carrying with me I didn’t use. Or, for some of it, if I did use it, it’s only because I forced myself to use it when it wasn’t really necessary. Having too much gear actually made me want to photograph less, and made me less creative when I did. My best photography most often happened when I had limited gear—perhaps one camera and one lens—and left the rest behind.
What makes a travel kit good? It should be compact and lightweight, yet versatile. One camera and one lens is often enough, but not always. The X100V is a great travel camera, but sometimes I need something more wide-angle or more telephoto—it’s not always versatile enough, even though it is often my camera of choice. I think two bodies and a limited assortment of lenses in a small bag is good. Small enough to not get in the way. Lightweight. Something that you don’t mind having with you, so you do. A good travel kit strikes a comfortable balance between practicality and petiteness.
I put together what I hoped would be a great kit for travel photography. I was able to put it to the test on a road trip to Arizona—was it actually going to work for me?—and I discovered many good points and a few things that still need to be worked out. Let’s take a close look at this “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit that I assembled for myself, piece-by-piece.
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It might seem strange to begin with the bag, but in my mind it’s just that important. The camera bag needed to be very small, but it also had to be able to hold everything. Finding one that I felt was just the right size and design turned out to be a challenge, but after much research I stumbled across the National Geographic NG2344 Earth Explorer Shoulder Bag, and for only $40! The dimensions of this bag are roughly 8″ x 7″ x 6″, yet I can fit two cameras and six lenses inside. I was thrilled to learn that the bag fit into the middle storage console of my car, so it is completely out of the way on road trips, yet is easily and quickly accessible.
I subdivided the main compartment into four, using the soft dividers to create “hidden” storage under the cameras, which I use for lenses. The bottom-right holds two Fujinon lenses, and the bottom-left holds three third-party lenses. Two cameras fit on top, just as long as the interchangeable-lens camera has a pancake lens attached. The small front compartment holds charging cords, extra batteries, SD-cards, etc., while the two tiny top pockets (which are probably more for looks than anything) hold lens-wipes. While everything is packed in, I don’t feel like it’s overstuffed—there actually is a little room for more, should I need it.
One thing that I don’t like about this bag is that the shoulder strap is permanently attached. I might modify it at some point to make the strap removable, as I think that would improve it. Otherwise, the bag seems pretty darn good for the travel photographer.
I already owned a Fujifilm X100V, and that camera was going to be in this kit, no doubt about it. The other camera was a question mark for me. It needed to be small yet an interchangeable-lens model. I thought that my X-T30 might be too big, so maybe the X-E3, but it has the older sensor. I really wasn’t sure which camera was going to be the right one. Then Fujifilm announced the X-E4, and I really hoped that it would be the correct camera for this kit, so I immediately preordered it. After several weeks of waiting, and just a couple of days before my Arizona trip, it arrived at my doorstep. And it fit perfectly into the camera bag.
The Fujifilm X100V, which I’ve had for about 10 months, was a birthday gift from my wife. It’s such a great camera and I absolutely love to shoot with it. The X100V has a permanently attached 23mm lens, which is 35mm full-frame equivalent—a very useful focal-length. The compactness of it makes it especially great for travel.
There are some X100V features that are unique in my bag. It’s weather-sealed, has a nearly silent mechanical leaf shutter, built-in high-speed-synch fill-flash, optical viewfinder, and built-in neutral-density filter. I could photograph with this camera 90% of the time and be very happy, but the X100V isn’t always the right choice. It has strengths, but it also has weaknesses that limit its versatility.
If I could only have one camera, it would be the X100V; however, I believe that this camera demands a partner. If you have this camera, you also need an interchangeable-lens option to accompany it. That’s why I have two cameras in my kit, even though the X100V is oftentimes all that I need.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X100V on the Arizona trip.
The Fujifilm X-E4 is the smallest interchangeable-lens camera with an electronic viewfinder offered by Fujifilm. The compact size of the X-E4 is an important aspect of this travel kit. I have an X-T30, which is a small camera that’s a little bigger than the X-E4, and it does fit into the camera bag, but barely—it’s much more snug than I want it to be. In a pinch it would work, but the X-E4 is a more comfortable fit, and a better choice because of that.
When the X100V isn’t the right tool, the X-E4 fills in nicely. It adds great versatility to the travel kit. I can go more wide-angle or telephoto by changing the lens. It can store one more film simulation recipe than the X100V. It has some new JPEG features that the X100V doesn’t. Even though 90% of the time the X100V is all that I need, I found myself using the X-E4 much more than I thought I would. It’s a fun camera that’s easy to have with you because of its compact size.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X-E4 on the Arizona trip.
In the camera bag I have six lenses—seven if you count the one permanently attached to the X100V. This provides versatility for whatever photographic situations present themselves. The lenses must be small, or else they won’t fit inside the bag.
Would a 100-400mm zoom be nice to have as an option? Yes, for sure! But it’s too big, and it would add a lot of weight—if it’s not going to be used much, it’s not worth bringing along. The Fujinon 90mm f/2 is one of my favorite lenses, but it’s also big and heavy, and not used often enough, so it’s not in this kit. A zoom lens would make a lot of sense, perhaps something like the 18-55mm f/2.8-4, but I prefer primes. My philosophy as I put this travel kit together was smaller is better. Zooms are often smaller than a few primes put together, but are rarely smaller than a singe prime. If a lens attached to the X-E4 made it possibly pocketable, that was a win. The more compact the camera and lens combo is, the more convenient it will be for travel. With those goals in mind, I chose six lenses to place inside my camera bag.
Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R
The Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R is Fujifilm’s second smallest lens, which makes it a great option for travel. The 18mm focal-length, which is 27mm full-frame equivalent, is very useful—great for walk-around photography and landscapes. This is my primary wide-angle lens in this kit. The 18mm f/2 is a little loud and a bit slow, but it captures beautiful pictures. The compact size and lovely image quality are what makes this lens great.
Most of the time when I want a wide-angle option, the 18mm focal-length works well; however, occasionally I would like something a little wider. I think a 14mm or 12mm lens would be preferable sometimes, but unfortunately there’s not an option that’s small enough for my camera bag—for example, my Rokinon 12mm f/2 is just a little too big. Thankfully, this lens is often a great choice when I want to shoot wide-angle, so it gets used a lot, and is an essential part of this travel kit.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 18mm lens on the Arizona trip.
Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR
The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR was my most used lens on the trip to Arizona. It’s Fujifilm’s smallest lens, so I knew that it would be an essential element of my travel kit, but I didn’t know just how much I’d love using it. The 27mm focal length, which is 40.5mm full-frame equivalent, is the closest to a “normal” lens on Fujifilm X, yet it is slightly wide-angle.
If I wanted to really simplify things, I could be happy just bringing this lens and the 18mm f/2 to pair with the X-E4 (plus the X100V). That would be a lightweight and uncomplicated kit. Expanding the focal-length options with a few other lenses is a nice bonus, but the heart and soul of the camera bag are the two camera bodies and the 27mm and 18mm pancake lenses.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 27mm lens on the Arizona trip.
Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR
The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR has been my most used lens over the last two years. The 52.5mm full-frame equivalent focal-length makes this a slightly telephoto “standard” prime lens, often referred to as a “nifty fifty”. There’s a little redundancy between this and the 27mm, as they’re both “standard” lenses, but the 35mm has some advantages: quieter autofocus, larger maximum aperture, slightly superior optics. Despite that, I found myself using the 35mm f/2 less often than I thought I would.
Because I have the 27mm lens, this lens isn’t an essential part of the travel kit. Since there’s room for it and it’s been a favorite lens of mine for a couple years, I decided to include it anyway. I did use it a little on my trip, but more because I forced myself to and not so much because I needed to. I might rethink its inclusion in the camera bag, but for now the 35mm f/2 lens stays.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Fujinon 35mm lens on the Arizona trip.
Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye
The Pergear 10mm f/8 Fisheye lens is quite limited in its usefulness, but occasionally it comes in handy, such as when I visited Horseshoe Bend, which demanded an ultra-wide-angle option for the dramatic landscape. The Fujinon 18mm lens wasn’t nearly wide-enough, so the Pergear 10mm came out and did the trick. The strong barrel distortion makes it tough to use, but it’s definitely useable in a pinch.
This compact pancake lens takes up almost no space in the camera bag, so its inclusion is a no-brainer. Even if it was only used a few times, and otherwise remained in the bag unused, it’s worth having around for those rare occasions when this lens comes in handy. It’s so small, lightweight and cheap, it just makes sense to have it in the camera bag, providing a more wide-angle option than 18mm.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Pergear 10mm lens on the Arizona trip.
Asahi Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8
The Asahi Pentax-110 50mm f/2.8 was the last lens that I added to the travel kit. Why did I include it? Because, since it’s a tiny lens, there was room for it, and I really like how it renders pictures. This lens has a fixed aperture, which makes its usefulness limited, but when I do use it I enjoy the pictures that I capture with it. This Asahi lens is the only vintage lens in this kit.
I wish that I had used this lens more, but it had competition, so I ended up using it less than I should have. Next time I will use it more. This little 75mm full-frame-equivalent lens has a special quality and takes up so little space, so its inclusion in the travel kit should have been obvious. The Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens is going to stick around awhile.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens on the Arizona trip.
7artisans 50mm f/1.8
The sixth lens in my travel kit is the 7artisans 50mm f/.8. This fully manually lens is good and all, but there are two reasons why it will be replaced: I already have a 50mm lens that I like, and focusing on distant objects is more difficult than it should be. Otherwise this a decent lens, and it has several advantages over the Asahi 50mm: closer minimum focus distance, larger maximum aperture, adjustable aperture, less vignetting—technically speaking, it’s a superior lens, but it’s missing the great character that is oozing from the vintage Asahi lens.
The reason why I selected this particular lens for this kit is because it’s the smallest 50mm X-mount lens available. I did discover that there’s actually a little more room in the bag for something slightly bigger. Ideally I’d like to replace this with a longer focal-length lens, but at the moment I’m just not sure what it will be, or when I’ll replace it. I do know that the inclusion of the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens in my travel kit won’t last long.
Below are a few pictures that I captured with my Asahi Pentax-110 50mm lens on the Arizona trip.
How ultimate is my “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit? It’s not perfect, but it’s significantly better than what I was traveling with before. The bag is ideal. The two cameras are wonderful. There are some excellent lenses to choose from. No doubt about it, this is a really good kit for travel photography.
If anything, it’s the lens selection that’s not quite perfect. I like the 18mm and 27mm. The 35mm is great, too, but a little unnecessary since I have the 27mm. The X100V, with its built-in 23mm lens, is awesome. I like the Asahi Pentax 50mm lens, but it’s not especially practical for everyday photography. The 10mm Fisheye is good to have around, but not especially useful most of the time. Those two lenses take up very little space, so it’s easy to keep them in the bag just in case I want to use them, but I know that I won’t be using either of them all that often. I don’t need two 50mm lenses, so the 7artisans will be replaced.
Should I replace the Fujinon 35mm f/2? If so, with what? The 16mm f/2.8 is the same size, so it’s a logical option, although it creates the same redundancy problem, just at the wide-angle end, which actually might be slightly more practical. Maybe the Fujinon 16mm f/2.8 and the Fujinon 50mm f/2 would be good options to replace the 35mm and the 7artisans models. The 50mm f/2 is a little bigger, but I believe it would fit. The Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 might be an option instead of the 50mm, which would be preferable because it has a longer reach and is also a macro lens, but it might be a tad too big for the bag. Maybe I should consider a vintage model. Or maybe replace two primes with a zoom. There’s a lot to consider, and I think replacing one or two lenses will make this “ultimate” travel kit even better. I’ll let you know when I make that modification, and how it goes.
This trip to Arizona that I recently returned from was photographically so much more pleasant than my other travels over the last couple of years. A small camera bag filled with compact and lightweight gear—a purposeful assortment of cameras and lenses—is a night-and-day difference from the heavy backpack stuffed with everything that could fit that I used to haul around. Practical and petite is preferable when it comes to travel photography. Less is often more. This might not yet be the “ultimate” Fujifilm travel kit, but it’s pretty close, and will only get better.
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In 1970, E.B. White published a fictional children’s novel called The Trumpet of the Swan, which is largely set in Red Rock Lakes, Montana. E.B. White is probably best known for penning Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are literary classics. While The Trumpet of theSwan is not as well known as the other two books, it is also considered a classic children’s novel. Not long before our road trip, we read this book as a family.
My 10-year-old son, Jonathan, who likes geography—you will frequently find him looking at maps and drawing maps—said to me, “Look, I found Red Rock Lakes!” He pointed to a spot on the map that appeared to be very close to our campsite in Island Park, which is in Idaho but very close to Montana. It turns out that the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which is where the book is set, was only an hour drive away from our campsite. We made plans to visit this remote refuge while there.
The Red Rock Lakes area features lakes, rivers, marshlands, prairies, forested uplands, and mountain peaks. It’s highly diverse. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge, including the illusive trumpeter swan, the main character of E.B. White’s novel. Moose, elk, deer, bears, wolves and many other animals call this place home.
Upper Red Rock Lake – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
The road to Red Rock Lakes is dirt. Rough at times, lightly flooded at times, and narrow at times, and quite rural the entirety, this was a fun drive in our four-wheel-drive truck. We did see some other cars and people, plus plenty of UTVs, but mostly we were alone. Not many people venture out to this lonely place. Red Rock Lakes might not be easy to get to, but it is highly rewarding and worth the journey.
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is incredibly beautiful! Breathtakingly beautiful at times, in fact. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground! I didn’t see much wildlife myself, but I image that wildlife photographers would love this place, too. Upper Red Rock Lake (which I have no idea why it’s named that as I didn’t see many red rocks) is surprisingly still and reflective. It reminded me a little of the Great Salt Lake, but smaller and freshwater. In some ways the refuge was like stepping into E.B. White’s book, and seeing it in person brought the words to life. I would love to spend several days there, not just a few hours. I hope to someday return.
These photographs were mostly captured with a Fujifilm X100V, and a couple were with a Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens. On the X100V I used my “The Rockwell” and Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation recipes. On the X-T30 I used my Velvia and Tri-X 400 recipes. Both cameras are great, but the X100V is such a wonderful travel camera that it renders the other gear largely unnecessary.
Red Rock Lakes Sign – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Red Rock Road – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Frontier Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Dilapidated Dream – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Abandoned House by the Hill – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Green Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Distant Mountains – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Mountain Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Mountain Wildflowers 1 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Mountain Wildflowers 2 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Wildflower Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Wildflowers in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Forest Flowers – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Flower in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm
Poolside – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Red Rock Lake in Green – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Algae Water – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Pelican on the Shore – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Looking For Trumpeter Swans – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Grey Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm
Upper Red Rock Lake Monochrome – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Monochrome Lake Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
Water Pipe – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V
These photographs were all captured at the same place: a Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg, Idaho. On the very first day of the road trip we stopped in Rexburg for lunch. You just never know when photographic opportunities are going to present themselves, so it’s a good habit to have a camera within easy reach. For me, that was the Fujifilm X100V. Surprisingly, that Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg provided the chance to create some interesting pictures.
Rexburg is perhaps best known for being underwater when a dam broke 1976, which flooded the area. The town recovered. It’s the last city before Yellowstone, and seems like a nice enough place. Like everywhere, hard working people are what keeps things moving forward. It’s the thankless jobs that often go unnoticed, yet they’re critical to a functioning society. It’s the premise of the television show Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe. I encountered a couple of those important yet invisible people while in Rexburg.
Blue Truck Trailer – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”
Drive Thru – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”
Out of Order – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”
Right next to Jack-in-the-Box in the same parking lot was a closed and abandoned Wingers. According to the sign, it had been opened for 13 years. I’m not sure why it closed: lazy employees, poor management, mediocre food, bad location, current economic times? I can only speculate, but I’ll never know the answer—it doesn’t matter, anyway. What I found interesting is that just a few steps separated hard working yet invisible people from an empty building that had similar people in it, but no more. They’re gone. Their jobs are gone. They’ve moved on. The dream that inspired its opening failed, leaving only ghosts of the past behind, a haunting reminder of the fragility of it all. Invisible People and Ghost Dreams would be my alternative title to this post. Maybe we’re all ghosts. Maybe invisibility is a super power. Maybe I just inspired the next album for some indie rock band somewhere.
For the top four photographs I used my new “The Rockwell” film simulation recipe. In fact, these were some of the very first pictures that I captured with this recipe. The bottom four photographs were captured using my Fujicolor Superia 100 film simulation recipe. These two recipes are pretty much opposites of each other: one is boldly vibrant, while the other is rather dull in comparison. Juxtaposed recipes for juxtaposed subjects. One mundane stop in a rather ordinary town. You just never know when photographic opportunities will present themselves, so be ready.
Available Building – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”
Available – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”
Thistles In The City – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”
This Restaurant is Closed – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”
I recently returned from a road trip across several U.S. states, which I photographed with a Fujifilm X100V and X-T30. The trip began in Farmington, Utah, which is where I live, and over a week-and-a-half my family and I pulled a travel trailer across Idaho, Wyoming (just a little), and Montana, and back to Utah. I visited two national parks. I saw incredible lakes and rivers. It was just a great road trip!
Upon returning, I was unsure how to best share the experience with you. I decided to break the trip into a series of articles called Traveling With Fujifilm. I’m not sure exactly how many parts there will be in all, but there will be many! This is Part 1. It won’t necessarily be in chronological order, but I hope in a logical order that makes some sort of sense.
The trip began on July 2nd right after sunrise. The trailer was already packed and ready, and already attached to the truck. We just had to load ourselves into the truck and leave. There are six of us: my wife and I, plus our four children. The truck seats six. It was a tight fit. We bonded (and occasionally not), as we spent significant stretches of time together on the open road.
The first day took us from our home in Utah to Island Park, Idaho. For the most part it’s rural country. We made a few stops for gas and food, but mostly pushed through to the destination. Island Park is amazingly beautiful! I’ll save that for another article, so you can look forward to it.
Phillips 66 – Malad City, ID – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 100
The film simulation recipes that I used for these three pictures are Fujicolor Superia 100 and Fujicolor Superia 1600. I only used the Fujifilm X100V for this section of the trip. This camera is great for this type of photography. No need to carry a camera bag filled with lenses. One camera, one lens. In fact, I used the X100V for about 90% of the pictures on this trip. While this article has only a few photographs, most in this series will have many more.
Come along for the ride! Join me on this adventure by following this series. I hope that you’ll find it enjoyable, inspirational and perhaps even helpful to your photography.
I have to apologize. Many people have commented on this blog, and many people have emailed me, but I haven’t answered those messages yet. I’m sorry for not getting back to you in a timely manor, but I will get back to you eventually. I promise!
Why the delay? I’m on vacation. I’m traveling. I’m camping. The picture above, which was captured with my Fujifilm X100V, is my current view. It is stunning! Any guess where I am? I’ve been keeping quite busy, but also WiFi and cell coverage has been spotty at best, so please be patient and understanding. This is, I suppose, my out-of-office auto-reply.
I’ll be back home soon, and I’ll be able to resume “normal operations” at that time. I have many articles to write, including sharing my vacation pictures, and a new film simulation recipe that I created. Be patient, good things are coming!
Follow along with me as I photograph Monument Valley! The video above, Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly, is a behind-the-scenes look at my photographic adventure to the incredible desert formations of southern Utah and northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation. It was a thrill to experience Monument Valley. It really is an amazing place!
This was my last trip before the worldwide pandemic shut down all of my travel plans. So far I’ve had to cancel two trips, and there’s likely one or two more that won’t happen. I hope that this video will bring you some joy. I hope that it reminds you of some recent travels that you’ve done. I hope that it inspires you to dream of where you’ll go and what you’ll photograph when you can once again go places.
My wife, Amanda, and I created this video. Actually, she did the majority of the work. Amanda recorded the clips. She did all of the editing. She coached me through the narration. I have a face for radio and a voice for print, yet somehow she made the video look great! Her vision, her storytelling, and her talents are what made this happen. Thank you, Amanda!
Evening at Monument Valley – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm
This article marks a significant milestone that I wanted to point out to you. This is the 500th post on Fuji X Weekly! Many blogs never make it to 500 posts, either because they publish too infrequently or they simply give up before it’s reached. What it means for you is that there’s a lot of content on this blog! If you haven’t been following Fuji X Weekly since the beginning, there are a ton of articles that you might have missed. There are perhaps many posts that could be helpful to you and your photography that you’ve never seen. I invite you to explore the older articles. The best way to do this is click the four lines on the top-right of this page, and either search a topic or browse the archive. Anyway, thank you for being a part of Fuji X Weekly! Without you, the 500 Posts milestone would not have been reached. You are appreciated!
Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!
Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
The Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is incredibly beautiful! It’s one of my favorite places. Once you’ve been, you’ll want to return again and again. There’s a magical quality to it, similar to that first view of the Grand Canyon or a misty morning in Yosemite Valley. If you’ve never visited the range, it should be high on your bucket list of places to see! The Grand Tetons are a landscape photographer’s playground, and you definitely need to visit with a camera in hand.
Many people who see the Grand Tetons do so from their car. U.S. Highway 191 runs north and south just east of the mountain, offering spectacular sights the whole length. There are so many amazing views of the range that don’t require an entrance into the park. Yellowstone National Park, which is a little north of the Grand Tetons, is the more popular park of the two, and Jackson Hole has itself become a destination, so a lot of people only see the Teton Range as they travel between the two places. While taking time to go inside the Grand Teton National Park is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it’s definitely possible to experience exquisite views from outside the gate. Going inside the national park isn’t required for a memorable Teton visit. Below are five tips for photographing the Grand Tetons from outside the park entrance.
The Off Season Is The Best Season
Tetons From Mormon Row – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
Avalanche Canyon – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
The Grand Teton National Park can get very crowded. Even though it plays second fiddle to nearby Yellowstone, it still sees a ton of visitors from across the world, especially in the summer months. The winter months are harsh yet could provide some amazing photographic opportunities for those willing to brave the elements, but that’s not when I’d recommend visiting. There are a couple of small windows that are better suited for travel to the Grand Tetons.
The month of May is an excellent time, as the crowds are low since school is still in for many people, and the weather is usually decent enough. The earlier in the month you go, the smaller the crowds will be, but the temperatures will be colder and it still might feel like winter. Mid-May is the sweet spot. Mid-September to mid-October is another excellent time, as most children have returned to school, and the weather is still decent enough. The earlier you go the better the weather, but the larger the crowds will be. Late September is another sweet spot for visiting Grand Teton National Park. If the forecast is for clouds and cold temperatures, it could provide a dramatic environment for your pictures, so it might be preferable over endless sunshine, but be prepared for the conditions.
Sliver of Illumination – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
While sunset can be a spectacular time to photograph the Grand Tetons, nothing beats sunrise. Since the highway runs on the east side of the range, the sunrise light is often better for photographing the mountains. The early morning “golden hour” is a time that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to arrive well before the official sunrise because the peaks will illuminate before the valley. If you can only be there for either sunrise or sunset (and not both), make sure that it’s sunrise. It’s worth getting up while it’s still dark outside to catch the early morning light on the Teton Range.
Because the sunrise will light the tips of the peaks first, it’s a good plan to begin the day with a telephoto lens. Once more of the landscape has daylight, you can switch to a wide-angle lens if you’d like. The Grand Tetons are a place where you’ll want the option for both telephoto and wide-angle focal lengths, and you’ll probably switch between both frequently.
Mormon Row Is Historic
Mountain & Mormon How – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
Barn In The Mountains – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
If you are starting off your photographic journey in the early morning, make the Mormon Row Historic District your first stop. It’s located just north of the Grand Teton National Park entrance on the east side of the highway. The old houses and barns are found about a mile down Antelope Flats Road. The John Moulton Barn is probably the most famous of the historic structures, and surely you’ve seen pictures of it, but there are other buildings that are equally picturesque. Mormon Row is one of the most famous spots at the Grand Tetons for photography, so even during the off season you’re likely to find a crowd with cameras at this place.
Besides the historic buildings, this is a location where you might spot bison, as buffalo commonly graze in the area. You might also see deer or even moose. Always be vigilant around wildlife and keep a safe distance. While the animals are fairly used to crowds of people, they can still be quite dangerous, so don’t get too close.
Schwabacher Landing Is Unbelievable
Tetons From Schwabacher Landing – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
After you are done photographing the barns at Mormon Row, head further north up the highway to Schwabacher Landing. There’s a little road on the west side of the highway that takes you down close to the river, which is calm and reflective thanks to a bunch of beaver dams. Honestly, this place is magical! It can feel unreal. It’s my favorite place at the Grand Tetons, so be sure to stop here.
If there’s a place that you’ll want to use a tripod and really take your time, this is it. Walk around the trails a little. Soak in the scene. Enjoy the incredible nature that’s around you. Don’t be in a hurry to head down the road. Be in the moment, because the moment is amazing. If you are visiting during the off season, there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself. Don’t miss Schwabacher Landing because it’s unbelievably beautiful!
Snake River Overlook Is Iconic
Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
The Tetons and the Snake River, 2017 – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1
About 21 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the Snake River Overlook, which is a pullout on the west side of Highway 191. There are a bunch of scenic pullouts along the highway that offer stunning views of the Grand Tetons, but this one is special because Ansel Adams captured one of his most iconic pictures at this spot. What makes it especially great is that you can capture the Snake River winding in front of the incredible mountain range. This is a good place to finish the morning, and, if you can, return for sunset.
As a photographer who has studied Ansel Adams’ work, who has been inspired and influenced by his pictures, there’s something prodigious about being in the exact spot where he captured one of his famous pictures. It’s walking in the footsteps of greatness. It seems particularly appropriate, when you visit the Teton Range, to pay homage to Adams by making your own photographs at the Snake River Overlook.
I’ve passed through Nevada many times, often only stopping for gas or lunch. It never seems to be my destination. I’m headed somewhere else, and I have to go through the Silver State to get to where I’m going. While I have stayed longer than a few hours, most of the time I’m through Nevada so quickly that it’s easy to forget that I was ever there. The photographs in this article were captured during those times where I just passed through, and didn’t stay. In fact, many of them were captured from inside my car. I hope that you enjoy this set!
Plaza Hound – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30
I-15 Overpass – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X100F
Chance of Rain – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30
Abstract Roof Lines – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30
When most people think of Arizona, they picture dry dusty deserts and sprawling cities. It’s hot. It’s brown. It’s inhospitable. There are endless rows of look-alike stucco homes. Many people might be unaware that the desert bursts with color in the spring. Arizona isn’t just brown, there are vibrant greens, blues, reds, yellows, purples and other colors, especially in the spring, which is my favorite season in the state.
Arizona isn’t all desert, either. While it may be best known for the Grand Canyon, you might be surprised to learn that the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world is in Arizona. There are tall mountains and even winter skiing. The state is full of surprises. It’s one reason why I love Arizona and appreciate visiting whenever I can.
Yellow Palo Verde – Black Canyon, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm
I used to live in Arizona. Back when I was barely an adult, the Air Force sent me to live in Arizona. I met my wife there. My first two kids were born there. I have a deep fondness for the state. I would love to live there again someday. It’s a wonderful place for photography. I highly recommend grabbing a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine to see many wonderful pictures of the state. A fact that you might be surprised to learn is that Ansel Adams was frequently published in that magazine back in the day. Many great photographers were, and still are.
The photographs in this article were captured a few weeks ago. I used my Fujifilm X-T30 camera with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens and a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens, which are both excellent examples of Fujifilm’s great glass that they’ve become renown for. I hope that you enjoy this variety of photographs that demonstrate there’s more color in Arizona than one might initially think.
Pine In The Sky – Flagstaff, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm
Green Leaves – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm
Agave Green – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm
Cactus & Blue Sky – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm
Palo Verde In The Windy Blue – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm
Palm – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm
Vultures In A Tree – Wickenburg, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm
Wildflowers & Stone – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm
Virgin River From Canyon Junction Bridge – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
Zion National Park was the third most visited National Park in America in 2017, right behind the Grand Canyon. Utah has five National Parks–only Alaska and California have more–and of the five Zion is by far the most popular, with Arches National Park a distant second. It’s no surprise that Zion is usually quite crowded. I was surprised at just how packed it was when I visited in the middle of the week in the middle of November. Isn’t this supposed to be the off-season when fewer people are there?
I arrived with my family in the morning about an hour after sunrise. We waited in a somewhat short line to get into Zion. Once inside we found the parking lot at the visitor’s center to be completely full, with a number of cars circling hoping that somebody would leave. We decided that we’d explore what we could of the park by automobile and hope that the parking situation would be better a little later.
This was our first time to Zion National Park and we really didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t anticipate the gobs of people and we didn’t expect that there’s not much one can see of the park from the car. There is the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which is over one mile long, and a few pullouts along the road that were packed full of cars (I illegally parked to get the photo at the top of this article). There are some things that can be seen and experienced from behind the wheel, but most of the park is accessible only by the park’s bus system or by foot. Once we figured this out we put a more serious effort into finding a place inside Zion to park the car. Unfortunately, parking was still scarce and we were lucky to find a spot in an overflow lot that required a small hike to the nearest bus stop; however, we soon discovered that we left the kid’s sweaters at the hotel and it hadn’t warmed up enough yet to be out without them.
Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
We left the park feeling a bit defeated and disappointed. We found a combination coffee shop and gift shop in Springdale, which is the small town right outside of the park entrance, and purchased some warmer clothes for the kids and the wife and I sipped on some coffee. We decided to park in town and take the free shuttle to the park. This turned out to be a much better way to get into Zion. The bus dropped us off right outside the park, and a quick walk across a short bridge brought us to Zion’s shuttle stop. Unfortunately, the line for Zion’s shuttle was about 400 people deep, but thankfully there were a lot of buses running and the line moved surprisingly quick.
The bus was completely packed. We rode it to the end, which is where the Riverside Walk trail is located. This trail is about two miles round trip and very easy, even for the kids. It’s also extraordinarily scenic! The draw to this place is quite apparent. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. It was also packed with people and at times felt like we were strolling through New York City and not a canyon in southern Utah. Even so, we had a good time enjoying the amazing natural sights around us.
After our hike we got back on the bus, which we had to wait in a line for and was again filled to the brim. We had intended to stay in the park longer, but we dared not get off the bus at a different stop because we might not find seats on another bus. So our stay in Zion was short. There is no doubt that this park is one of the most beautiful, but it’s too crowded. Next time I will have to ensure that it’s a less busy time of the year for a visit. I hear the park is beautiful dusted with snow.
For these pictures I used a Fujifilm X100F, a Fujifilm XF10 and a Fujifilm X-T20 with an Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 lens attached using an M42 adapter. The Asahi lens is fantastic, with just a little corner softness that improves as you stop down, and I paid only $30 for it (and it came with a camera). Despite the crowds, Zion is incredibly beautiful with photographic opportunities literally everywhere. I spent a partial day there and came away with these pictures. I felt like I left many great photographs behind. Zion National Park is a magical place for photography, but it’s not a very good place to find solitude, at least not when I was there.
Virgin River Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Rocky River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Sun High Over The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Zion Canyon Sun – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Sun Over Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
Amanda & Johanna Asleep – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Rock Wall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Trunks & Leaves – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Monochrome Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
The Family, Zion Bridge In Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
A Pine Among The Rocks – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Mount Carmel Tunnel & Chevy – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
Autumn River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Virgin River In November – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Strolling Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Rock Ledges – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Yellow Tree Against Red Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Yellow Trees Below Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
Rocks of Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F
Virgin River Through Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Yellow Tree, Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Canyon Tree in Fall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Yellow Leaves in Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Autumn Tree & Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Sunlight Through The Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
The Yellow of Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Autumn Along The Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
River Along The Autumn Path – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
Flowing Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10
River In The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
River & Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Rushing Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Vibrant Autumn Forest – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Crevasse Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Earlier this week my family and I traveled to southern Utah. One place that we visited was Snow Canyon State Park, which sits just outside of St. George. This place was new to us. I saw it on a map and thought it might be interesting, so we went. I knew nothing about Snow Canyon State Park other than how to get there. I didn’t have any expectations, but if I did they would have been blown away. This is a really neat state park!
Despite the name, Snow Canyon doesn’t receive much snow. It was named after the Snow family, who were early settlers to the area. The park features beautiful red sandstone, petrified sand dunes, a couple of small arches and different lava formations. It’s a place that begs to be explored. It’s a great location for hiking, camping and rock climbing–oh, and definitely photography!
We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset and stayed for about 15 minutes after. We didn’t have a long visit, which is a shame because it seems like an awesome park! In the short time that we were there we had a lot of fun. The kids ran around and explored as much as they could. From what I can tell the park has a lot to offer, including some large lava tubes that would have been fun to find. I didn’t know about the lava tubes until after we left, so we’ll have to find them the next time that we visit.
There are most certainly some great photographic opportunities in Snow Canyon. The place has something worthy of your camera’s attention at every turn! The quintessential red rocks of the region and the unusual land formations create the potential for great images. I was there for less than an hour and created the pictures in this article, which were captured using a Fujifilm X-T20. Zion National Park, which isn’t far away, get’s a lot of attention, but Snow Canyon State Park shouldn’t be overlooked! It is definitely worth your time to see.
Last Light On The Cliffs – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Cliff Hanger – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Petrified Sand Dune – Snow Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Overcoming Adversity – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Crevasse Tree in Color – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fuji X-T20
Autumn Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Autumn Tree In Snow Canyon – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Exploring Kids – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
Moon Over The Rocky Ridge – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20
This last summer my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Ree Drummond’s mercantile store and ranch in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Ree Drummond, who is also known as The Pioneer Woman, is a famous television host, cook, author and blogger. She’s practically a household name! Her home, which just happens to be one of the largest ranches in America, is just outside of Pawhuska, which is where you’ll find her restaurant and store.
Pawhuska is a quintessential rural country town in northern Oklahoma. It once boomed, but an oil bust, the Great Depression and Dust Bowl left lasting scars on this small town. Less than 5,000 people call Pawhuska home, but it does have one famous resident that has breathed new life into the area, and it has become a mecca of sorts, a tourist destination for fans of The Pioneer Woman. People travel from all over the county, even the world, to visit The Mercantile.
You might be wondering right now what any of this has to do with photography, as Fuji X Weekly is a photography blog, other than I captured some photographs of this place while visiting. Well, a lesser known fact about Ree Drummond is that she’s a pretty good photographer. She’s captured some amazing photographs of Oklahoma ranch life. In fact, her store and ranch are decorated with her pictures. You’ll find some of her photographs in her different books. I know that she’ll never read this article, but if by chance she ever does, I would strongly urge her to publish a photoessay book showing life on her ranch, which might include 40-50 of her best black-and-white photographs. The art world has yet to recognize Ree’s pictures, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a talented artist or that she shouldn’t share her pictures with the world. I do believe someday her prints will find their way into an exhibition somewhere, and she’ll receive recognition for what she’s done with a camera.
The Merc – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
We visited The Mercantile, which is an old brick building in downtown Pawhuska, in the afternoon, browsing the store that’s packed with unique items. Some of these things feature Ree’s designs, while other things fit her style but aren’t designed by her. It’s a fun store to walk through, and my wife found many things that she wanted to purchase. After that we went upstairs to the coffee shop, which includes a great space for sipping hot drinks and eating tasty pastries and just relaxing. The Mercantile was busy, but it didn’t feel overcrowded, and we took our time soaking up the experience.
The Drummond family opens up The Lodge for tours from time-to-time, and it just so happens that it was open for tours while we were there. The Lodge is located on their ranch several miles outside of town and down some dirt roads. This is where the cooking show is filmed, and it serves as a guesthouse for visitors. It’s a beautifully restored and decorated ranch house. Visiting it was an intimate experience, as it felt like stepping into their home, even though this isn’t their main house. My wife pretended to host the show, and we got a good laugh out of that. We were able to pet a few of their dogs, which are seen in the show and books and were just hanging around the building. We even saw some of their horses, and my 10-year-old daughter, who loves horses, got to pat one on the nose. It was a good time and well worth the dusty drive to get there and back.
That night we returned to The Mercantile for dinner in the restaurant. The food was every bit as delicious as we imagined and then some! The atmosphere was just as enjoyable as the food. It was one of the best meals we had on our road trip. Ree’s restaurant really was ridiculously good!
Kitchen Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
We spent the night in Pawhuska. We awoke the next morning to rain, but that didn’t stop us from returning to The Mercantile in the morning for breakfast. As delicious as dinner was the night before, breakfast was even better! I can understand why Ree is a popular television cook, as her recipes are incredibly tasty.
Before coming to Pawhuska we had read on the internet that The Mercantile and restaurant can be extremely crowded with long lines, and that sometimes you have to wait for hours. We didn’t experience any of that, but as we were leaving town we did notice that the line for the restaurant was becoming quite long. I would suspect on weekends or busy travel days, during peak hours, that it can get extraordinarily crowded. My recommendation would be to come during the middle of the week and be there either early near when they first open or late just a little while before closing and you’ll miss the gobs of people.
The Pioneer Woman experience was a highlight of our summer vacation. It felt like we were invited guests and not strangers. We ate delicious food. We toured their guesthouse. We purchased some merchandise. We didn’t want to leave, but it was time to go. We took with us some good memories. Oh, and I captured the photographs you see here.
Pioneer Woman Table – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Singing Cowboys – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Headless Three – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Chair Shadow – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Backwards Gear – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Window Seat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Blackberry Lemonade – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Berry Creme Brulee – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Devil’s Food – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Drummond Ranch Horse – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Mercantile Treats – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
The Lodge Porch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Kitchen Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Chairs By The Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Ranch View – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Cowboy Boots – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
The Lodge Kitchen – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Dog & Cow – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Drummond Ranch Vista – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Foal Shy – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Country Horses – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Mercantile – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F
Cafe Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F
Wet Tables – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F
Bakery – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Light Fixture – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F
The Pioneer Woman Store Corner – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Pat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Cup of Joe – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F
Rural Cows – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Two Horses In The Grass – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Horse Gate – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Horse & Hand – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Drummond Ranch Overlook – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
Drummond Ranch View – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2
The final leg of our journey, which also marks the end of this series, took us through the lonely state of Wyoming. Towns are few and far between. It’s a very rural place. Antelope outnumber the people. The main purpose of the small communities situated along Interstate 80 seems to be serving highway travelers.
Wyoming is beautiful, especially the northwest corner. We didn’t travel to the northwest corner, but even the empty southern side of the state has some sites worth seeing. There are mountain passes and grasslands and rivers. Spotted here and there are patches of unique natural artistry. We passed through much of it without stopping.
Because the journey itself can be more important than where the road leads, the destination isn’t as critical as the decision to go. On this road trip I saw and experienced many great places, met some wonderful people, and, of course, captured many memorable photographs. I hope to do this again real soon.
Small Pet Area – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80
Lowering Sun On A Travel Day – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80
A Trucker’s Life Is Lonely – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80
Text Await – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80
Waving Above The Structure – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80
One thing I found particularly fascinating about the Taos Pueblo is that this historic site is still inhabited. This is a real home to many people. The doors and windows belong to someone. Inside there are living spaces, bedrooms and kitchens. Surrounding the two large pueblos are even more houses. There’s a church. This is a community.
Visiting Taos is like being invited into a stranger’s home. You have the opportunity to see a more intimate side of things, and perhaps come away with a different perspective. What I found in Taos was not what I had pictured in my mind prior to visiting, but something much more interesting. There’s a certain profoundness to this place that’s difficult to put into words.
I appreciate those in Taos for allowing me in, answering my questions and showing hospitality and kindness. Unfortunately, my stay was much too short. I had only a couple of hours to spend at the pueblo, and then it was time to continue down the highway to Santa Fe. I truly hope that the opportunity to return comes sooner than later.
Ansel Adams’ very first book, Taos Pueblo, was published in 1930. It featured photographs that Adams had captured in the spring of 1929 at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. He would return to Taos several times on his journeys across the American west. It was while flipping through one of Adams’ books that I first learned of Taos, and for the next twenty years I would dream of one day experiencing the place firsthand.
The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America, dating back to about 1000 AD. There are actually two pueblos, the north house and south house, that look much the same and are of similar age. It’s amazing how little has changed over the centuries, and it is said that the pueblo appears similar to visitors today as it did to Spanish explorers in 1540.
People still inhabit the Taos Pueblo. It’s like a giant apartment complex. Many of the lower-level units are used as restaurants and shops. You can buy handmade art and trinkets. It’s a neat experience. It does cost money to visit ($16 per person), but I didn’t mind as I’m sure it helps those who live there. Sadly, it appears as though poverty is a common issue at the pueblo.
My family and I only got to spend a couple of hours at the Taos Pueblo. We were just passing through on our way to Santa Fe. It would have been great to spend more time capturing this historic site. There are so many photographic opportunities! Interestingly, and perhaps unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), photographs are for personal use only, and one must obtain prior approval and pay a fee for commercial photography. If I wanted to sell a picture that I captured at the pueblo, well, I can’t, unless I jumped through the appropriate hoops ahead of time. This is something to consider if you are planning a visit, and if I were to spend more time than just a couple of hours at the site I definitely would have done this just in case I captured something special.
I used a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 60mm lens attached to capture these images. They are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs using my Kodachrome II film simulation recipe. I hope you enjoy viewing them!
San Geronimo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Taos Cowboy – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Pueblo Door – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Red Door – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Flower Pot – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Pueblo Peak – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Pueblo – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm
Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm