3059.1 Miles Later…

Well I am back from my 2 week photo trip up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as other parts of Michigan.  I would be a liar if I said the trip was an overwhelming success as far as new images go.  It was definitely productive as far as stock images go, I’d say of the total 720 Raw files I came home with about 200+ images that will make it to into stock.  Unfortunately I had wanted to capture more classic images that would be sold not as stock, but rather as images for reproduction for use in offices, hospitals, hotels etc.  I’ve been successful at generating these type of images in the past for use in the above mentioned locales but this trip just lacked the juice for that. 

“Big Red”. on Lake Michigan

Tonight I am leaving for four weeks to Colorado.  I have many stops that I plan on making both as a photographer, and a general tourist with my spouse who will accompany me.  I am certainly hoping this trip is more “image rich” than Michigan – not that there was anything wrong with Michigan – its just that I didn’t feel I was at the right places at the right

Above is an image of “Big Red”.  This one was definitely one of my “targets” for this trip and I am very, very happy with these results.  I photographed this with my GFX50R, and the 100-200 F5.6 lens on a tripod, using the Provia film simulation. Since arriving home I uploaded the 720 images into Lightroom on my iMac and off my MacBook Air, but I have not yet had a chance to even open and examine any images yet as I’ve been so busy preparing, planning, and packing for this extended Colorado adventure. Ok, back to packing as we are headed out in about six hours!

See you all in August.

Road Trip!

Today I’m preparing and packing up my gear, and Big Bertha so I can head out on a week long road trip to Maine. This will be a working road trip which means I’ll be working during a good part of the day but I’ll be making time for some photography as well. For this trip my goal is long exposure images. I’ll be living on the coast with access to plenty of bodies of water for sure! I am also planning on hitting Acadia National Park and exploring a little bit in that area. The pink granite and the beautiful Penobscot Bay would make for some amazing long exposures I’m hoping. I also plan on heading northward towards the Canadian border. There is a very small community up there, Lubec, which has some great views of Canada of course, but has a very quaint waterfront. On the way back I’ll probably stop in Bar Harbor and pick up some fresh seafood for dinner. In addition to my goal of long exposure images with my medium format Fuji I also plan on flying my drone extensively on this trip. This is something I honestly don’t do enough of so I’m going to try and change that on this trip. I’m hoping to come back with some hang-worthy images but we shall see.

In addition to my medium format gear and the drone I am taking my XH-1 with the 16mm F1.4 in case I have the opportunity to do some star gazing. Unfortunately I do not have the patience for that but we’ll see what develops. Either way the XH-1 and the 16 1.4 are a truly AMAZING combination. The 16 1.4 in my opinion is Fuji’s BEST LENS ever!

That’s all for now as I need to get back to packing.

My New Camera Bag

Meet Big Bertha. My new camera bag. Lots has happened in a few short months. I have decided to retire, my last official day of being a full-time employee for anyone is this June 18th. I’m nervous, and excited at the same time. Since I plan on traveling a tad more I decided to buy a new vehicle; unfortunately my Subaru Outback LL Bean no longer suited my needs. Fortunately, my daughter decided to buy a new Toyota Sienna minivan and I bought her four year old Sienna for basically trade-in value. I got a great deal!

I think my spouse and I have decided on our summer travel plans with Big Bertha. We were planning on hitting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula but due to the increase Covid infections in that state we will stay away for the time being. One of my other preferred itineraries was Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, but the Canadian government is still not allowing Americans to travel there. I had been pondering where to go since Michigan is out of the picture and I had been collecting some articles on Colorado for future travels this fall. Funny thing is I pulled out my atlas to research some travel locations such as the Smoky mountains or Cades Cove – that we’ve visited in the past – as well as some other southerly locations. I asked my spouse where she would like to go and she wasn’t sure so I then asked her to close her eyes and point to a place on the atlas that happened to be open on my lap. Serendipitously, with her eyes closed, she pointed to Colorado. Since my spouse is a very intuitive person I have learned to listen to her “feelings” (which when I don’t it always winds up costing me money) guess where we are headed? Yup: Colorado. So Big Bertha will be our new mobile home and my new camera bag. I’m decking her out with some foam mats after taking out the eight-passenger seating. I figure that when I’m on location and want to stay overnight somewhere we can do so comfortably. The van also has some great hidden storage so I’ll be storing my camera gear in it without much fear of theft; add to the hidden storage compartments the standard tinted windows, plus the multiple sunshades on all the windows even if someone were to put their face up to the glass it’s still very difficult to see inside. I am planning on traveling with my Fuji GFX and Fuji X systems and of course my drone gear. I have enough charging ports in the van to keep every battery battery for both camera systems and the drone fully charged. Once I’m on location I’ll be able to pick and choose what gear to take and use on our various walks and hikes and feel reasonably comfortable leaving the balance of the gear in the van. I’ve been working over the last three weeks time permitting on cleaning her up after four years and four grandsons of use and she is pretty much ready to go. I’ll also be packing in addition to the camera gear a 2-burner Coleman stove, a lantern, and cooler in addition to our luggage, and my spouse always packs waaaay too much. What is so cool about the van is the amount of space and it’s utility! I’m overwhelmed by it all. With that in mind I think we need to be more careful not to overpack too much for five week adventure in a few months.

I’ll be adding to these travels as well. You can follow Big Bertha on instagram @Big_Berthas_travel_log for van and trip updates.

Lightroom’s New “Enhance Detail” Feature

Today since I’m on vacation and had nothing else to do I decided to take an image and process it in the new LR feature called “Enhanced Detail”.

First I shot the image (obviously), then I imported the RAW file into Lightroom. As you can see the image is from the Fuji 50R at full resolution, 8256 x 6192 size. It was shot at 1/160th, F11, ISO 400 handheld.

Once I imported the RAF (RAW) file I then right clicked on the image and selected “Enhance details”. I timed the process – it took 4 minutes and 36 seconds to process the RAF file into an “Enhanced dng” file back in LR.

For this process, since I’m on the road, I’m using my travel Mac which is a Late 2014 MacBook Air with 256G HD, and 8G of ram. Of course, a newer machine will most likely be faster. Just an FYI if you do not use LR you can still use this process in Adobe Camera Raw. Now the question is should you, or will I use it? Probably not. Why? because in all honesty I do not see that much of an increase in detail to warrant the time involved in processing, nor the extra file size. My RAF file is 117mb whereas the enhanced DNG file is 262mb. I’m posting here a couple of screen takes from within LR but in all honesty I do not see the difference at 100%. Do you? Maybe a little tiny bit of extra resolution around the license plate but I don’t think this is anything I cannot achieve with a few tweaks in Capture One, which is what I use to process all my RAW files from my Fuji X and medium format systems.

Here are the screenshots. You be the judge… And please let me know what you think.

It’s been a While…

Hey folks. It’s been some time since I’ve written. Life gets in the way and, well we all know how it goes. I do have some news – I got a new camera bag. This one weights about 6,000 pounds! I’ve gave notice at my office a week or so ago that I was going to retire. My retirement will become effective on June 18th this year! I’m scared, and nervous but also super excited; I’m so looking forward to road trips. I’m so excited to hit the road — though with this pandemic and various rules my Canada trip is out, and I really want to avoid people.

This minivan wasn’t my first choice – I was looking a Toyota Venza or Highlander Hybrid for the AWD and ground clearance like my Subaru Outback LL Bean edition but this van was a cash deal – excellent price, and I knew the owners and the van has been dealer services (I have all the records) since it had four miles. So I know what I’m getting into. I’ve been working slowly on a daily basis to prepare it for my personal travel needs. I’ve added my power outlets – multiple ones – and the cables, camera charging cables, drone charging unit that allows to batteries to charge while I drive. I’ll also be adding a Coleman stove, lights, and coolers to be able to camp anywhere for at least an overnighter while out shooting. The van came equipped with eight passenger seating but I’ve removed the rear seats to allow for sleeping and baggage area.

We are headed out for a short week trip in a few days which will be a good test for what works and what doesn’t. In July we’ll be off on a longer, more extended trip out to Ohio and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since Canada doesn’t seem to want us Americans just yet – and I can’t say I blame them – any of us are just plain buttheads.

Here are a couple of photos of my new camera bag. You can follow me and Bertha on IG @big_berthas_travel_log and you can follow me @thelazyphotographer.nj

I hope to see you on Instagram. Until we meet again, take care and be safe!

Off to the Caymans

A Bag Change…

I decided to use a different bag than the one I had selected below.  This one was another one I picked up for like $30.00 US from either B&H or Adorama on one of their many e-mail blasts I get from them during the year.  This one as you can see from the images is a bit longer, same width, but it has some nice features such as top ingress and egress — in other words I don’t have to open the flap to get camera or lenses out.  That’s a very nice feature in crowded areas.  It also has a very, very deep pocket on the flap – shown with the orange zipper, where I can put my passports, travel documents, phone, etc.  I love that feature!  Inside I placed one of my three inserts;  even though I do have larger and deeper inserts, the one I decided on here is, thinner so as not to make the bag sit as wide, and semi-flexible so I can bend it at will without damage.  This bag still fits under the airplane seat which was my goal for this trip, together with keeping it light and simple.  Since I’ve also decided to pack my 35 1.4 you can see everything fits much better.  Up against my body the bag holds my 10.5″ iPad, and three Mavic Pro batteries. I also have a pocket inside the flap, one under the flap, one in the back.  The pockets and flaps are everywhere!  The only downside of this bag is I do not like the cammo look inside.  That is the only reason I don’t use this particular bag.  Once I arrive, the bag will shed the drone batteries, and pick up my filter pouch which is going in my checked bag.  I doubt I will leave the hotel with all four lenses each day – it really will depend on what I intend on shooting so the bag will be smaller and lighter than it is now – even though I think it’s just perfect as it is.

Oh… See the black roller suitcase? That my friends is my winter project as I’m converting it into a foam lined, sealed, camera, lens and drone carryon, or check in bag!  I’m so excited about that project that I’ll attack when I have some time.  Right now as the title says I’m off to the Caymans.  I am still reviewing and will be editing over 1800 images from my time in Iceland back in April; and I have another 400 or so images of miscellaneous shoots and small day-trips to review.  I also have over 2,000 images I need to title and keyword for stock use.  So this winter will be very busy for me.  But, I digress…Here are the bag images.  Let me know what you think.

Collection of Bags

Interior of the Manfrotto

Manfrotto bag

Top zipper so don’t have to use the flap, and the deep side pocket


After returning from Coastal Maine last week I am now planning, packing and preparing for a trip the the Cayman Islands.  For this trip I’ve decided to lighten the load; both in-transit, and while on the ground. Instead of taking my super reliable, 10+ year old, $40.00 backpack which has been everywhere with me I’m taking a small Lowepro Streamline 250 that I picked up on sale at Adorama for US $20 via one of their emailed fire-sales.  This is the sole bag that will go on the plane with me under the seat. Together with my camera and lenses I’m also packing my three drone batteries in this bag as the Lithium batteries are not allowed in check-in luggage. The bag came with one divider, but I’ve added some dividers from other bags in order to pack my lenses securely.

LowePro Streamline 250

I own several camera bodies – well, I did. I fried my Fuji XT-2 in saltwater while in Myrtle Beach South Carolina a couple of weeks ago so now I’m down to my XT-1 and my XH-1.  I’m only taking my XH-1 plus three or four lenses.  I may or may not pack the 35mm F1.4 which is an amazing lens, and weighs just mere ounces.  I haven’t yet decided.

Caymans Gear X-H1 body, no grip, 12mm Zeiss 2.8, Fuji 16mm 1.4, Fuji 18-55, 35mm 1.4 (possible)

This is the gear that’s in my Lowepro bag.  The XH1 without the grip; The Zeiss 12mm 2.8 for those expansive vista’s I’m hoping to see and capture.  The 16mm 1.4 which is the only water resistant lens I’m packing, my 18-55 which is my “don’t leave home without it lens”, and maybe, possibly I’ll throw the 35 1.4 in there since it weighs mere ounces.  Also in the bag as I mentioned before will be my three drone batteries, plus my 10.5″ iPad (not shown in any images).

Gear going in the check-in baggage

This is what’s going in the check-in.  Mostly miscellaneous cables, adapters, battery chargers, Drone and controller, camera lens filters.  I’m only packing two spare memory cards plus the two I have in the camera out of fourteen or more that I own.  Each set of cards can handle 1599 jpeg fine+raw images.  If I’m pressed for space I can always switch to raw only.  The reason I shoot jpeg fine in addition to the compressed raw is so that I can review the full size jpeg on the back of the camera if I need to, though I rarely chimp; if I only shoot in raw, I’ll only be able to see a small basic jpeg which doesn’t give you a true an clear final representation of the image. I have the XH1 setup so the cards are set to “backup” in camera;  Once the cards are removed from the camera they will be separated so that none of them are in the same place at the same time.  Since I’m not taking the XH1 battery grip to save space and weight I’m taking only two spare NP126S camera batteries in addition to the one in-camera.  I’m packing a charger in the above mesh bag – it’s not shown here as I was actually charging batteries – but it’ll be in there. In the checked in bag will also be my camera and lens cleaning kit. The square, black pouch on the right contains the power brick and cables for the drone that allow me to charge three batteries at once.  That accessory I must say is one of the best things I bought for the drone! Each battery charges in sequence, and the LCD display shows what the actual voltage to each battery is so you know if the batteries are failing or not.  It also came with a car charger that I can plug into my cigarette lighter – since I won’t be renting a vehicle I won’t be packing.

This trip is a short, 5-day travel & stock photography trip with some down time thrown in.  No pressure, no stress, just shoot, relax, eat, drink and repeat.

More when I return.

Back from Coastal Maine

I’ve returned from Maine after a long three day weekend.  I was able to shoot some nice coastal images – visited various wharfs and docks to photograph them.  One of my favorite subjects are old, retired and very colorful lobster floats plus the assorted lobster trade gear.  I was able to only fly my drone on Friday since Saturday and Sunday there was a major air show near my home just a couple of miles from the Owls Head Lighthouse, and airport.  So DJI software wouldn’t even allow me to crank up the drone engines.  I even drove as far north (just a few miles) up the road to Camden (tourist trap central) and the airspace was still restricted.

I came home with a few images –  both drone, and some other some of which I’ve added below.

Owls Head Lighthouse, DJI Mavic Pro

Lobster Float detail, Fuji XH1 & 16-55 2.8

Wharf Workshop, Fuji XH1 & 16-55 2.8

Lobster Trap and Rope, Fuji XH1 & 16-55 2.8

Old Lobster Floats, Fuji XH1 & 16-55 2.8

Lobsterman shacks, Fuji XH1 & 16-55 2.8

Owls Head Lighthouse at sunset, DJI Mavic Pro

I Accidentally Trashed My Fuji X-T2

My X-T2 is now a very expensive paper weight.  Honest.  That’s what I’m using it for now.  a paper weight.  I was hit by a wave while shooting the coast in South Carolina.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit by salt water, but unfortunately, I had the rear display panel extended so sand and salt water made it’s way into the motherboard.  Since I also have the X-H1 and the X-T1, I’m not too worried, but I really did use the X-T2!

Now what?  Well I’m not sure.  I was planning on selling some bodies and lenses and getting the Fuji GFX-R medium format and the 32-64mm lens.  I just can’t pull the trigger on spending almost 6,000.00.  I think I’ll wait until Fuji has one of their epic sales before I spend that kind of money.

So, for now I’m working with the X-H1 and my lenses;  I really don’t use the X-T1 any more so no backup for me.

That’s it for now…

Back from Iceland!

One of the Waterfalls… Fuji X-H1, 16-55 F2.8,  If you look close enough in the darker areas you can see the hail beating down.  The X-H1 and the 16-55 were unstoppable.

I’ve returned from that magical place that is Iceland. I will say the landscape is so varied and rugged you can go from ocean to glacier, to volcano in a matter of minutes. I flew into Keflavík and skipped the big city. We had decided ahead of time we wouldn’t be staying in Reklavik. By not spending time there we were able to get plenty of mileage on the ring road. 

Let me get right to the point: I have but one regret and that was I feel I took too much gear in the backpack that I took as carry-on.  Whether it was on my back while hiking, or just being carried to the car it was just too much. Since we never spent more than one night in any one hotel I couldn’t leave gear behind and just take what I needed for the particular hike, walk or whatever.

In order to try and be ready for anything I packed  both my Fuji XH1 and the XT2 body. No grips. I packed seven batteries, which honestly if I had taken three it would have been plenty. Of the eleven lenses I own that I took some heavy hitters. The 16-55 2.8, the 50-140 2.8, my 16mm 1.4 for Astral and northern lights and my Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8. The 16-55 was glues to the XH1 with the exception of the first day when atop a volcano crater, I used the Zeiss 12mm to gather in the fantastic image of the gaping hole and the gorgeous lake at the bottom. Other than that one time the Zeiss never left the bag afterwards. The 16mm 1.4 lens never came out of the bag. There was zero opportunity for northern lights or any astral work as between the rain, clouds and wind it just wasn’t possible. Speaking of rain. It rained. A lot. It hailed. A lot. We hiked 7.8 miles to a particular waterfall and it hailed for four straight hours.   Add to that the wind and those hail pellets felt like bee stings on any exposed part of the face or hands. This is where the Fuji heavy weights were literally worth their weight in gold. As I mentioned above the 16-55 was on the H1 and the 50-140 on the XT2. Both camera and lenses were out of the camera backpack the entire time being pelted by rain and sleet and driving wind. Neither camera failed or even hiccuped due to the weather. Of course there was no way I was changing lenses in those elements, so having both bodies really helped! My original thought knowing we were going to do a lot of walking – not hiking – as my wife and I are 62 and 60 and are definitely not hikers, I was going to pack my lighter 18-55 of which I own two copies of and my 55-200. However having checked the weather reports before leaving and seeing all the rain that was forecasted I opted for the weather sealed lenses instead. In addition to the camera bodies and lenses in my backpack coupled with SD cards, camera batteries, And various filters I also had my Mavic Pro drone with three extra batteries. Again, a waste as I was unable to fly due to the rain and winds. I believe I flew it twice over an eight day period and came back with maybe 20 images or so. Again, just not worth it. 

Both my wife and I decided next time we travel we will not only check our main bag in as usual but each of us will take a smaller hard case carryon.  A hard case carryon with an approved TSS lock same as our large checkin bag in case they force me to check it in at the gate. I’m going to buy a generic hard shell case and I’m going to modify it with hand cut foam inserts.  I don’t ever want to haul around airports my Amazon backpack again. 

One thing to watch for in Iceland is the dynamic range when shooting any kind of waterscape or landscape. While it was raining of course there were darker clouds but when it was just overcast the lighting was just super brute white skies. I personally found it difficult to retain the correct landscape exposure and manage not to blow out the sky. As always I exposed for the highlights whenever I could but in all honesty it made for some ugly images – at least until they are processed. At times I wish I owned a graduated ND filter for just this purpose. I carried with me enough SD cards to fire off 8993 images. I “only” came home with 6491. Lots of very good stock images. As far as portfolio worthy images there could be maybe a few. Definitely five that I can recall, or as one of my best friends used to say “a hangie”. 

Kerrid Crater from the top at the rim. Amazing colors.  Great views of the surrounding area.  Fuji X-H1, and the Zeiss Touit 12mm F2.8

Both the wife and I talked about it and our favorite stop was Diamond Beach. We arrived there early in the morning, the lighting was overcast but not too overpowering and she with her iPhone and me with both my bodies spent several hours shooting and admiring the beauty here. This is where at least two of the “hangies were taken.

Overall we travelled and covered plenty of ground. From the airport to Pingvellir National Park, then the ring road all the way to Höfn. I wish I had dedicated more time to true photography but this was more of a family style vacation where I happened to bring my cameras along. 

Will we return?  Though Iceland was amazingly gorgeous and the landscape so varied and spectacular I’d have to say no. There are just way too many other wonderful places to explore in this great big world. 

Other than the weight and what i packed as far as camera gear I have no regrets with my Fuji’s. Both bodies and the two lenses that were pretty much glued on the bodies performed excellently in all types of weather especially the rain and wind. Everything worked as it should and I had no hiccups at all. 

On another note I did not carry a laptop, not even my lightweight MacBook Air as I knew we wouldn’t have a home base where I could leave the laptop while out exploring. And even though Iceland is very safe I’m from the Northeast US and we just don’t leave stuff in cars. 

Each night at whatever hotel we were at to wind down after a long day I would whip out the iPad and using the Apple SD adapter I would pick a few images to email out and then swap the SD cards on the cameras for the next days shooting. 

If you have any questions about visiting Iceland drop me a line. 

Crotch-Melting Amazing

This is what I have to say about the Fuji X-H1.  I bought it.  Yes.  After I said I wouldn’t, when it first came out I broke down and did it! Actually I had purchased the X-T3 and was using it for two weeks. Then I heard the X-H1 was on sale, including the Fuji battery grip, and THREE batteries, all for US1299.00.   I packed up the X-T3, returned it and ordered the X-H1.

You can read all the reviews of the X-H1 online. All I can say is WOW.  The leaf shutter is super quiet, and the shutter is just oh so quiet and soft. I’ve never felt anything like it.  Ever.  One of my favorite features – actually two, on the X-T3 are on the X-H1 – that is the super nice horizontal level that also covers up and down adjustment, AND the Bluetooth!  I love the blue tooth. Now, as long as I have my phone, I can geo-tag my images as I shoot.

The body, which I initially considered too large, is just PERFECT.  I’ve gotten used to it but honestly it’s not as large as I thought it would be.  I’m not sure, and this is subjective, but I swear my images seem sharper and clearer; and the noise is MUCH better than the X-T3 that’s for sure.

The IBIS or In Body Image Stabilization is unbelievable.  I am getting about 2 – 2.5 stops better; not the five the marketing folks suggest.  Now, I can actually use my primes, and my 16-55 2.8 at lower shutter speeds and lower light.

Overall, I am so thrilled with this camera it has become my primary.  My X-T2 is now my backup body, and the X-T1 is not used.

I’ll be in DC next week, then Iceland in three weeks so I’ll report more then. But, I was in Ontario Canada during the (very) cold spell a few weeks ago as you can see by these images.  I had the X-H1 and the 50-140 F2.8.  From the waterfalls was this super fine mist rising from the bottom, this mist actually fell on us like a frozen sleet/drizzle.  I shot in this for several hours with no ill effect on the camera, or the lens.