Bokeh Balls (not broken balls)

So yesterday my wonderful spouse convinced me to leave the office and go out for some holiday spirit with her.  I did.  What did we come back with?  She came back with some great memories, and some gifts for the grandkids;  me?  Oh, exactly 1,698 raw files.

The place we went to is KNOWN for it’s holiday light displays.  This is a wonderful place to visit anytime of the year, but during the holidays, it’s magical. I had been here once before, in December 2012 with my lil Panasonic LX7.

Knowing what to expect I packed my X-T2, the 16 1.4, the 35 1.4, and the 60mm Macro 2.4;  and just for kicks, and because I Loooove the zoom effect on lights of any kind, I threw in my 18-55 lens.

I also threw in my small canvas carry-all bag a load of ND filters –  which didn’t get used at all, my electronic shutter release, which absolutely sucks,  and my travel tripod.  All this fit inside my small, lightweight canvas bag with a Jill-E insert.  In the outside pockets I threw in a water bottle, some ibuprofen tabs for my back (from carrying medium format film, and Nikon digital for years) and that was pretty much it.

I did not use the tripod at all.  ALL my images were taken between iso 400 and 1600, handheld mostly wide-open at 1.4 whenever possible.  I’ve posted below how many images per lens.  Of course, I have yet to cull these for the keepers  — I also have to cull through 11,911 other images that I’ve taken for travel/stock and personal use since July.  I have whittled it down from 16,000 so I’m slowly making progress.  I certainly won’t be at a loss as to what I’ll be doing on long winter nights!  As a matter of fact I met a guy up in Maine that was out shooting with his 4 x 5 film camera.  We got to talking and he told me that he would shoot all spring, summer and fall, then “relive” his memories as he developed his film in his darkroom over the cold Maine winter nights.  He actually inspired me “not to worry” about getting caught up and up-to-date unless I was on deadline.  And boy was he right!  I am stress free with over 11,000 images to review, then edit and distribute around to the agencies.

Here are some details as promised  as to the lenses I used at the village for the images:

16mm 1.4:  923 images,  35mm 1.4: 626 images,  18-55zoom (for special effects): 120 images, and the incredible 60mm 2.4 Macro:  29 images and only because it was just too dark to handhold the 2.4.

All ISO’s were from a minimum of 400, to a max of 1600.  I selected the ISO instead of letting the camera do it.  I just love these images, and the bokeh my lenses produced!

And to be perfectly clear:  Not one lens gave me any trouble locking on to the lights.  I don’t know what ju-ju Fuji has introduced but the 16, 35 and 60 locked on instantly — the 18-55 hunted a bit – especially at the 55mm F4 end but overall I could not be happier with the selection I took with me.  I kinda wish I had taken the 23 1.4 so maybe if I go back next year I’ll be sure to pack that one as well, and leave the mini-tripod at home to balance out the weight.

All these images were shot as UNCOMPRESSED raw, 50.6mb each.  I used a 128 Lexar fast card in slot 1, and a 32G Lexar in slot 2 for JPEG’s.  I didn’t touch the JPEG’s.  And, yes I shoot only uncompressed as no matter what anyone says I still don’t believe that no data is lost between compressed and uncompressed.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some fine Bokeh Balls!  Look at how clean and crisp they are! I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them.

ChristmasLights-8502
Revolutionary War Leftover Ruins at Sunset  16mm F7.1, 1/25th
ChristmasLights-8557
Bokeh from the 35mm 1.4, ISO 800
ChristmasLights-8680
35mm F1.4 @ 1.4, Focused on red bulbs, ISO 800
ChristmasLights-9438
16mm 1.4 @ f1.6, 1/90th, ISO 800  I probably could have taken the ISO down to 400 but the noise is relatively non-existent so I left it alone.
ChristmasLights-9591
ONE OF MY FAVORITES of the night:  16mm F1.4 @ 1.4, ISO 400! 1/20th handheld burst
ChristmasLights-9698
35mm 1.4 @ 1.4, 1/35th second, ISO 400
ChristmasLights-9822
Fuji 18-55, F4, 1/2 second, ISO 800 zoomed out from 55mm (that’s a small pond in the foreground)
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A Bad Day, and a Good day

On my way to the office this morning my car was rear-ended by the guy behind me, who was hit by someone behind him.  So, my car be totaled.  that’s the bad news.  The good news is I had my car flat bedded to my mechanics shop where, while he worked on it to make it safe, and drive-able, I photographed one of his new additions.  It’s a rusting hulk (soon to be restored) 1952 Ford Firetruck!  That’s the good news.

While waiting for my car I spent over an hour photographing this thing of beauty.  It was raining, misty, and the lighting gave the faded red paint, and the rust a soft, warm patina that is hard to duplicate.

Here is the first image I looked at tonight.  It’s with the X-T2, 35mm 1.4, handheld.  Processed the raw as a Classic Chrome, then I processed it in the FANTASTIC Acros film simulation.  I am so taken back by the image quality of the camera in general, and then the Acros is like the cherry on top!!

100, 200% Satisfied

A couple of images here.  My grandson, Jonah.  First is the original image (from raw). I shot the entire day with the 35mm F1.4, The X-T2, Acros + G filter.  This is the JPEG from the raw file, processed in Classic Chrome.

Pumpkin_Day_X-T2_2163.jpg

Now below is the SCREENSHOT of the same image, at 200 PERCENT as viewed on a 46″ display!  You can see me, and Jonah’s dad in his eyes!!!  Dang…….

200% on 46" Display.png

 

Fujifilm HQ in Edison NJ

I will say the guys and gals that work at Fuji (at least in Edison, NJ) are the very best!  I congratulate them all.

Yesterday I had some questions about my setup of the X-T2 and I contacted them.  I spoke with a gentleman there who pulled out an X-T2, and he and I went over and through settings until I was taken care of.

In one instance he did not have an answer; he took my phone number down and lo and behold, he had an answer for me by the end of the day!   Anybody get that kind of service from Nikon?  Canon?  Sony (HA!)?  I bet not.  I’ve dealt with Nikon support in NY.  Unless you are part of the pro services (which I am not) you are pretty much at the mercy of some folks who don’t really care whether you are happy or not.  Trust me.

Just so you know I’ve dealt with Fuji in Edison since way back in 2002.  I used to shoot digital with a Fujfilm S1Pro, then the S2Pro before I went all Nikon.

They truly are professionals!    Thanks guys!!

 

This Weekend…

This weekend I spent time with my grandsons; the two oldest ones… I took over 450 images of the two little boogers in total —  What camera I hear you asking?  Ok, maybe you are not but I’m tellin’ ya anyway:

I used the Nikon D800E with a 50mm lens.  I also found in my wife’s food pantry my pocket wizards, and my SB700 flash;  Why was it in the pantry?  I have no clue!  She probably found it laying around the house and decided to put it away for me.  This is pretty much all the dSLR gear I’ve left since moving to the Fuji X series.  Why didn’t I use the Fuji?  Well, silly me I left it at a relatives home after shooting there over the July 4th long weekend.  Yeah.  Left it behind.  Can you believe that!?  I can’t.

So, I had to break out the D800e.  It had been quite a while since I used it last.  The 50mm 1.8G is the only lens I have after selling or giving away everything else.  I set it to portrait color rendering,  slapped on the PW’s and the SB700 Flash and that’s what I used all day Friday, and Saturday.  And, I have to admit it was FUN!  Did I miss my Fuji X-T1?  Hell yes but, with the Fuji on CH, and 8FPS I would have shot ALOT more than the 463 images I took with the D800e.  I had the Nikon set to jpeg only which is a no-no for me; I am usually in jpeg+raw.  Here is one of the images with the D800e, 50mm 1.8G and the SB700 bounced off a white ceiling off-camera.  JPEG SOOC.  ISO 400.

IMG_4882

I will say it was awesome having the ability to easily, and quickly fire remote flash, plus the focusing speed of the D800e made for lots of images which i “may” not have been able to make with the Fuji I’m sad to say.  I hadn’t used my D800e in so long I had forgotten how fast it was.

Will I now switch back to Nikon?  Heck No!  I love, love, love Fuji and The D800e is for those times I need a bit more resolution — unlikely, but it has come up from an editor here and there  on a few occasions so I keep it around.  Besides, I only have the 50mm lens and I love the Fuji 16mm (24mm FF equivalent) so I doubt I’ll be shooting a lot of landscapes with it.  Besides, it is still so darn heavy and bulky there is no way to be stealthy with this beast — especially with the battery grip I had on which only made it bigger.

I am extremely satisfied with the images though and, well, in all honesty I spent Sunday morning pixel-peeping in LR as the 15-20MB jpegs in LR are just gloriously full of pixels and details.  🙂  Sorry.  Gear nerd took over momentarily.

As I’ve stated on Fujirumors.com and on Fuji X Forum I will be upgrading to the X-T2 probably next spring or early summer;  I’m just waiting for all the rose-colored glasses to come off so we can see the true picture (pun absolutely intended) of what it can and can’t do, what the true image quality is compared to A, B, and C, and what issues, if any, have been discovered in user reviews.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts and on the various blogs of the problems I had with my original D800 – not the “E” series, just plain ole D800.  I want to study what the non- X photographers have to say about the X-T2.  This will only happen after the camera has been released into the wild, and actually purchased and paid for by reviewers. I’m in no way saying those X Photogs who are giving us their personal experiences are not being honest – by no  means am I claiming that.  I just have a thing where I much prefer independent reviews.  Period.   The independent ones  IMHO, are the reviews that matter most.

That’s it for me.  Wrapping it up now.