It’s been 7 + months since I’ve been shooting ( exclusively) the Fuji XT-1. I am often asked why and what I really like about it. Below are 5 things I really love about this camera. Yes, there are some things I’d really like Fuji to improve but overall it’s just a great camera that produces incredible images and is fun to shoot. My back also loves this system! Here are the 5 main things I love about the Fuji XT-1 —(All images we made with this camera)
1) I simply love the style and feel of the body itself. It brings me back to the SLRs of the past while letting me make the kind of images that we demand today. It is a bit of the “Old School” look and feel with the current technology. The FUJI XT-1 is lighter and smaller (and easier on my back!), compared to today’s heavy and bulky DSLRs. The controls of the Fuji X-T1 do not feel at all cramped. The XT-1 is just plain fun to shoot with while being well built with a weather sealed magnesium cast body. This is one really good feeling and looking camera.
2) The electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Fuji XT-1 is absolutely amazing. Its brightness and clarity sometimes makes it hard to remember I am looking at an electronically generated image. One nitpick is that there is a very (and I mean very) slight pause in the display when the exposure is adjusted. It’s a God send to be able to see my histogram before I shoot. (This should be a feature in every DSLR—listening Nikon & Canon?). It’s great to see my compensation change when I dial it up or down. This is only a feature in the higher end cameras by the competition. But this isn’t rocket science. All DSLRs should function like this!
3) The Fuji X-T1 performs exceptionally well at high ISOs. I would challenge any full frame DSLR to compare images at a very high ISOs. I feel very comfortable shooting up to ISO 1600 knowing my files will be noiseless. Color and black levels hold together right up to ISO 6400. Slight noise increases do occur when shooting at 6400, but they are very manageable.
4) A great camera deserves great glass and Fuji has really delivered. The18-55mm (dare I call it a kit lens) is a fast (2.8) lens, extremely well built and produces incredibly sharp and well defined images. Compare it to any other “kit” lens available! I have found other Fuji lenses to be extremely fast and sharp as well. ( I own the 14mm 2.8, 10-24 F4, 55-200mm and 60m macro. I can’t wait for the new 50-140 F 2.8 weather sealed, with a collar mount 2.8 coming next month!) All Fuji lenses have metal mounts. Most of Nikon’s new lenses are plastic. Most of Fuji’s lenses are smaller and lighter than the competitions as well. One cool thing is that Fuji produces a road map of its lenses so we know what’s coming more than a year ahead at times.
5) Fuji listens to its customers more than any other manufacturer. Fuji has also done a great job of upgrading camera firmware while not forgetting about their earlier models. While other manufacturers make their customers buy newer models, Fuji has done it primarily by firmware. Additional functionality and features on the XT -1 were direct responses by Fuji to their customer’s suggestions. What a novel idea.
A few things I’d like to see Fuji change:
1) Make the back buttons a bit easier to manage
2) Improve battery life
3) Lock down the diopter adjustment
MORE IMAGES FROM THIS YEAR—all made with the XT-1 and great Fuji glass
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These photos are protected by U.S.Copyright laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham
By entering these sites you accept these terms. If you need permission to use a photo on these sites please call
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I recently finished my 20th Annual Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierras with co-leader Guy Tal! It was a great year to be there … fabulous fall color, awesome workshop group and good times with some old friends.
Below is a post from one of those acquaintances, fellow photographer Greg Vaughn. Greg is a good guy and good friend …. be sure to check out his books too!
Fall in the Eastern Sierra: Iconic Locations and Inspiring People
A couple of weeks ago I wandered to the east side of the Sierra Nevada in California to lead a private photo workshop, meet some long-time photographer friends, and make some photos of the fantastic fall color the eastern Sierras are famous for.
The photo workshop was a great success, with my client declaring after the first morning that the trip had already paid for itself; we were treated to a spectacular sunrise at Mono Lake with a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains and colorful clouds floating in the sky. We went on to work Alabama Hills, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Milky Way photos from Mammoth Lakes, weathered wood and rusty metal at Bodie ghost town, and, of course, lots of brilliant fall color around the creeks and lakes between Bishop and Lee Vining. I really enjoy sharing such spectacular beauty with others, particularly those who are enthusiastic about developing their photographic skills.
The rendezvous with old friends was also great. I first met a couple of these folks twenty years ago in this same area as part of a meeting of shutterbugs from the old Compuserve Photo Forum. Photographing alongside these people at places like Bishop Creek, Mono Lake South Tufa Reserve and Bodie State Park is wonderful as they are amateurs in the original and best sense of the word: those who do something just for the love of it. Their enthusiasm and joy in being in a beautiful location and exercising their creativity is truly inspiring. What good fun to explore a scene when one photographer is shooting with an infrared-converted DSLR, another alternates between shooting black & white IR, winding film through a Holga and straight captures with a digital camera that he will later process with various artistic and alternative effects. A third photographer works his DSLR with the intention of later producing paper negatives and then contact printing them on his hand-made, hand-coated paper. Hanging out with these folks, I’m motivated to try and be a little more creative in my own photography.
Icing on the cake for this trip was a dinner get-together with photographers Jack Graham and Guy Tal. I met Jack several years ago at a NANPA Summit, and we’ve kept in touch via phone, email and Facebook since then. Jack has helped me out several times, including contributing some of his photos to my bookPhotographing Washington. If you’re not familiar with Jack, it might interest you to know that he’s been leading photo workshops for over 20 years, and Jack’s workshops are consistently sold out, with a huge percentage of repeat attendees. He is very, very good at educating photographers and helping them attain new skills.
I was most pleased to meet Guy Tal, a man whose photographs and words have both intrigued and inspired me for several years. Few people can craft such wonderful words to go with their photographs. Eloquent is the operative term for both. I sometimes fancy myself a writer, since I have written two books that won awards for editorial content, but my writing is usually a very literal “I went here, if you go there, this is what you’ll see”, and often when I read Guy’s posts on his blog I think to myself, “Damn, I wish I could write like that”. Guy doesn’t talk about gear much, delve into the camera, lens and f/stop he used, or how he processed a particular image, but he expresses well the reason for making an image and the emotion behind it. Even if you don’t consider yourself an Artist with a capital A, as photographers that’s something that we should all strive for.
One of the things that attracts me to Guy’s photographs is that they are often rather quiet images. Although some have vibrant color, he doesn’t crank that Saturation slider as some photographers are wont to do these days, nor are most of his images composed of bold graphics. Rather, they are highly detailed, quiet studies. The kind of images that you can stare at for a long time, that you wouldn’t tire of seeing on your living room wall. Photographs that invite meditation and contemplation.
Interestingly, of all the photos that I made myself during this trip to the Sierras, the one that pleases me the most at this point is not one with the brilliant oranges and yellows of sunlit aspens in their peak of fall color glory, but rather a photograph made in the shade, with aspens that weren’t quite in their prime. Tree trunks and leaves against the texture of a granite wall. A rather quiet image, and one that resonates with me and reminds me of what I enjoyed about my wander in the eastern Sierras.
BRITE STRIKE FLASHLIGHTS….. the UINEA from GURA GEAR ….I KLEAR CLEANING SOLUTION….3M CLOTHS
Greetings everyone…… Below are just a few of some great products I use when out in the field. I get nothing from these endorsements. I just would like to share some things that make life a bit easier. If you have any for me send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As well let me know if you use these and how you like them.
I always kid my good friend, assistant and partner in ULTIMATE ICELAND, Greg Duncan that he is the VP of finding new locations, toys and gadgets…and he is very good at that. However once in a while either I find a few that I really believe in or some of my good friends let me know of some others. These products are ones I use in my photographic arsenal.
Brite Strike Flashlight –I recently discovered this amazing flashlight (Model BTL-150-MH) and used it for the 1st time last week up on Mt Rainier. This company is known for their tactical illumination products and supply the military and police forces with products. Advanced Digital Power Management computer chips assure full power for up to three hours, which in itself is amazing. The flashlight is only 5” long and deliver 280 lumens. It’s Tactical Touch® Momentary/Hi switch offers the ability to control the rate of micro bursts of light as well. Visit their web site for more products and information
You will also be amazed at the build of this flashlight. It is made of very high grade aerospace aluminum. Brite Strike also makes another product that I am very interested in. They are All Purpose Adhesive light Strips ( APALS-AIR®). They adhere to your hat, arm, shirt or really anywhere and can be seen up to one mile and operate in 4 modes. These 1″ x 2.3″ strips last over 200 hours! Think of the uses for these when photographing in the dark, let alone the safety value.
Check out everything else these folks make… the make some very unique products. Click HERE for their home page
Gura Gear Uinta Camera Bag – In my closet sits about 30 camera bags of all sizes and manufacturers. Yes, I’m a bag nut and a charter member in the “Bag of the Month Club.” I think I am done looking for the be all and end all in camera bags … I may have found it! I’ve been using the UINTA camera bag from Gura Gear with great success for about 4 months. It has a lot of miles on it and has been exposed to lots of rain, sand, mud etc. I can tell you that this bag, like all the other products from GURA GEAR, is as good as it gets. It’s a modest sized bag with the best overall construction I’ve seen. The zippers are as good as it gets. The CORDURA® and custom weatherproof ripstop X-Pac® is the best rain proofing material I’ve seen…and living here in the Pacific Northwest and traveling to Iceland a few times a year, I know how important rain proofing is!
I use both the small and medium modules. In the medium module I carry my Fuji XT-1 and 4 lenses. There is also room for lens hoods, cable release and more of what I need in the field. Everything is extremely accessible. In the small module, I carry some filters and have been known to fit a jacket or long sleeve shirt in there as well. There are dual openings for each module. You can buy an accessory that holds your water bladder and tripod as well. I would suggest doing this on long hikes or in areas where you need to stay hydrated.
Gura Gear cut no corners when producing this bag. It is what I think the best value for the money out there these days. You can buy it HERE from my friends at Outdoor Photo Gear.
Klearscreen.com For a few years now I have been using this marvelous product. Be careful using products to clean your optics, iPhone screens, and computer and tablet screens. Not all products are made equally and many can cause damage. iKlear’s unique, non-toxic and environmentally friendly formula is manufactured in their California facility. Unlike other cleaners, iKlear is anti-static and is alcohol, ammonia, and sodium lauryl sulfate free. Anything with alcohol or ammonia will damage optics and screens!
You can purchase these products in (different size) bottles, or in travel singles. These are a must! You can buy this product at AMAZON by clicking HERE
A good friend from California and I have for years been searching for the BEST micro fiber cloth around. These cloths by 3M are actually made for automobile detailing and are extremely soft. In my opinion the ones you buy for quite a lot of money in camera stores are worthless. All they do is move water around. They are not very absorbent. The clothes supplied by iKlear (mentioned above) are really quite good, actually very good. You can throw these 3M cloths in the washer (no soap!) and use them over and over. You can buy these in a 6 pack for about $30 at Amazon! CLICK HERE
NOTE: When cleaning your lens, gently remove any material (sand, dirt etc.) from your lens before using ANY cloths—lens can scratch easily!
Greetings everyone …… I have been a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) almost since inception. As a current NANPA board member, I wrestled with the idea of posting this on my blog since it’s sort of an advertisement. However, because I consider this to be in everyone’s best interest, I decided to post this announcement.
Every other year NANPA conducts its Nature Photography Summit (down the road I hope it can be every year). This event is a place for aspiring photographers and pros to share time together, stories and life lessons. It is a place for immense education … where you can take part in presentations and enjoy lectures by some of the world’s most renowned photographers. In the coming weeks we’ll be announcing a who’s who of speakers, breakout sessions and a list of events that will not only help you grow as a photographer but guide you on the path to learning and growing as a nature photographer. (I’ll provide links for this information on my blog when it becomes available). For those of you who know me well, you know I try to be as honest and forthright as possible … especially when it comes to spending hard earned money that could be better spent elsewhere. This event, in my opinion, is well worth every penny.
Please join me in San Diego, February 19-22, 2015 at the Nature Photography Summit. The common thread I’ve heard from folks who have been to many, if not all of the NANPA summits, is that “Once you go to one … you’ll always come back.” This is absolutely the truth … please consider joining us!
In addition, I am conducting a workshop in Death Valley the week after. If you attend the NANPA SUMMIT you will receive a 10% discount … and if you register before Jan 1, 2015, you’ll receive another 10% discount! My return attendees receive another 10% – THAT’S 30% for those who qualify!! I hope you can make it! Thanks for your consideration … and please come see us in San Diego.
“My first thought is always of Light” ……Galen Rowell Filters are a hot topic – sometimes quite controversial. Which is best to use? Which is the best value? And on … and on. Please note the opinions stated in this article are entirely mine. They come from years of experience and observation. I expect to receive a lot of emails with varying opinions, and that’s fine. Please remember these are my opinions. Below I talk about the filters I carry and use the most, though I only use filters when absolutely necessary. Here we go! Before beginning to talk about filters allow me to discuss filter quality. Yes there is a difference. Would you put retread tires on a Lamborghini? Probably not. Why put a low quality $25 filter on a $3,000 lens? It happens more often than not. There is a reason professional photographers use the filters they do and stay far away from others. Think about that when selecting filters for yourselves. Remember these factors when thinking about using filters: • Use filters only when necessary • Never stack filters on lenses • Buy the thinnest filters available. Wide angle lenses need thin filters to reduce any potential vignette • Make sure they are clean before each use • Understand the benefits and drawbacks of using filters There are many filter manufacturers out there. Almost without question, you get what you pay for. But how do you know which manufacturer makes the best filters available? After each category, I’ll give you my recommendation on what to buy.
Polarizing filters are the most commonly used filter for any landscape photographer. These filters simply reduce the amount of reflected light passing onto the camera sensor.
Just like wearing polarizing sunglasses, polarizers can enhance color, especially in the sky, making the sky a deep blue. These filters also reduce glare and reflections off of water and other bright surfaces. Polarizers also increase color saturation in foliage. When rotating these filters and looking through your viewfinder, one can see the variable effect of a polarizing filter. The direction your camera is pointing directly affects the effect of this filter. Polarizing filters work their best at a 180 degree viewpoint from the sun.
Be careful. Even without these filters on our wide angle lens, skies can be uneven when not at 180 degrees. Using a polarizing filter will enhance this unnatural look making the image unbalanced and unrealistic. In this image on the left the sky is darker on the left than on the right. I did not need to polarize this image. Sometimes we want the color reflected on or below water to be viewable. Polarizing filters counteract this and can reduce the color and reflection. Be careful and analytical when using these filters. Your light can be reduced up to 2 or sometimes 3 stops.
Handholding with slow shutter speeds can be a problem when using polarizing filters. Never use a non-circular polarizer. Though less expensive, these non-circular filters affect metering and autofocus, making them useless. BENEFITS: Reduces glare on water and foliage; Darkens skies; Enhances color. DRAWBACKS: Can remove color off water; Uneven darkening if not used correctly; Can decrease light by 2-3 stops. RECOMMENDATION: The best available is SINGH-RAY or B+W; Schneider is the next best; High end (brass ring) Hoya next tier but good; Tiffen, Cokin and all others are last choice.
NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS
Neutral Density Filters, often called NDs, reduce the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor and therefore increase the length of the opening of the shutter. These filters are used most often when photographing long exposures and when your ISO is at its lowest setting. Attaining smooth, silky water and using blur to convey motion are the two most common reasons for using these filters. These filters will allow you to use a shallow depth of field in very bright light. (For information on making long exposures, please read this article.)
These filters, more than others, can add a color cast to the image when they are used. Some are better than others. Singh Rays are the best I have found. Singh Ray makes NDs in 5, 10, and 15 stops as well as a 2-8 stop Variable ND.
For water you do not need more than a few seconds, if even that, to get the best shot. That’s where the Variable ND comes in handy.
BENEFITS: Increases exposure time; Great for long exposures on water and moving clouds. DRAWBACKS: Good understanding on usage necessary; Color shift when using low quality ND’s. RECOMMENDATION: SINGH-RAY is the best available, hands down. Most others I’ve seen have lots of color shift.
GRADUATED NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS
First … avoid the screw-in type filters. They do not allow you to move the filters transition line! Cameras are limited in recording what we call ‘dynamic range’. Often, either the darker areas of the scene will be underexposed, or the brighter parts will be overexposed.
Graduated ND filters are clear on the bottom and slightly darker, depending on the strength, on the top, with either an abrupt or a gradual shift in the middle. They are used to darken the brighter part of a scene so it appears natural taking into account the dynamic range of the camera.
These filters are made to equalize light from overly light areas to normal or even dark areas. They are commonly sold in increments of 2, 3, or 4 stops. They gradually, from top to bottom, start out at their darkest and blend into clear. Though one could take 2 images and blend them together, getting it right with a GND is my choice. When combining images often noise is introduced into the image. Also when the light is changing fast, blending images can produce some interesting but unwelcomed effects. A good article talking about using these filters can be found HERE
It is important to select the proper GND for each scene. I rarely use hard edge GND’s. Learning to place the blend in the proper location takes some practice. I suggest using a tripod and a filter holder to increase your precision. BENEFITS: Equalizes light. DRAWBACKS: Using too strong a filter when it’s not needed can make the image look unnatural; Inexpensive filters tend not to have the proper gradation (blending). RECOMMENDATION: Once again, SINGH-RAY is the best available, hands down; LEE is a distant second; New version Cokins are better than before but still third choice; Most other brands I’ve seen have lots of color shift.
UV HAZE FILTERS
Most folks I meet tell me they use these filters to protect their lenses. Really? Think about this. If you drop your lens on hard surface most of the time a filter is not going to save it. A lens hood would probably be better protection. There is little UV around sea level. As the altitude increases so does the UV. However, modern digital camera sensors are much less sensitive to UV than film is, so the need is much less. UV filters introduce the chance to adversely affect image quality, introduce lens flare and add color cast. Again, today’s digital sensors are less sensitive to UV making them irrelevant. So why use them? For protection? Perhaps … if your lens is expensive enough. But to me, the negatives outweigh the positives. BENEFITS: Can improve clarity when using film, especially at higher altitudes; Protects lens from blowing sand, dust, etc. DRAWBACKS: Inexpensive UV filters can diminish clarity, add color cast and lens flare. RECOMMENDATION: Don’t really know … I don’t use them … but I would avoid cheap filters! The material and images contained in this writing above may not be reproduced in any form.
All Photographs as well as text appearing here is the property of Jack Graham and Jack Graham Photography LLC, unless otherwise noted. These photos are protected by U.S. Copyright laws and are not to be reproduced or used in any way without the written permission of Jack Graham and Jack Graham Photography LLC By entering these sites you accept these terms. If you need permission to use this material please call 503-625-1430 or email email@example.com
I am really humbled (truly an understatement) to be a member of a group of professional landscape photographers comprised of friends and acquaintances from around the world. It’s a very small group, consisting of some of the finest professional landscape shooters anywhere in our universe. We are all connected by our love of the land and share the inspiration we take from it.
I am very pleased to announce the publication of “The Insightful Landscape,” a collection of over 150 landscape photographs, both in black and white and color. It is a very high quality book, printed on ProLine Pearl paper.
Beside a few of mine, images contained in this book come from some amazing photographers, the likes of … Guy Tal, Alister Benn, David duChemin, Michael Gordon, Jim Goldstein, Andy Biggs, Floris van Breugel, Gary Crabbe, Richard Wong, Lon Overacker, Tim Parkin, Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, Bill Chambers, Chuck Kimmerle, Joseph Kayne … and others. Just being asked to be part of this group and project is an honor!
This book is available for sale by clicking here. It can also be ordered for eBook or in Apple iPad format.
This project is one of love, not money, and none of us are benefiting financially. We have added a few dollars to the cost of each book, of which 100% will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in honor of a participating photographer’s son who is fighting the disease.
This book is available for sale by clicking here. You’ll love this collection! —-Thank you for your support.—Jack
Things we need to know – think we do know – but sometimes forget … A refresher in the Essentials of Basic Composition
(This is an excerpt from the Spring 2014 issue of Insights in Photography)
Not long ago, most of my workshop attendees were lacking many of the skills needed to make an interesting photograph. But in a few short years, with the advent of digital cameras and the computer technology that has come with them, this has really changed. With the current superb camera equipment available at a reasonable cost, many amateurs are today making images that were only possible by professionals a short time ago.
I encounter many people who think buying the latest state-of-the-art camera, lens and other modern equipment will automatically allow them to make an interesting photograph. But it takes a lot more than that in making a good image. I always tell them to keep the technical part of photography as a means to an end, not as the end all, in which you’ll make good images. Having great equipment just gives you the chance to make a great photograph. The technical part of photography is just part of the process. There are no technical discussions in this essay … just a discussion of some of the more overlooked aspects of creating good images.