Monday, December 25, 2017

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2017 / Happy Holidays!

Gallery (25 photos): 2017 / Happy Holidays!

Here's wishing everyone Happy Holidays for 2017! All the best for the upcoming new year as well!

The gallery has photos I took while walking back home through downtown Vancouver a few days ago. There were some amazing houses and lots of festive lights everywhere in the city too.

I've said this before, but this time I will try to stick to it: for the new year, I am hoping to blog a little more often and try to get caught up on all the images I've shot over the years! Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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2017 Oregon Eclipse - Painted Hills / Clarno / Shaniko

In August, I headed down to central Oregon with a friend to experience and photograph the total solar eclipse. I decided to go nearly a week early, to scout out and secure campsites prior to the mad traffic and rush of people that hit Oregon right around eclipse-day, and also to enjoy the amazing scenery there. Luckily, we managed to find a campground just outside the eclipse path to the north that wasn't trying to charge exorbitant rates, and we prepaid for 5 days right through to the day of the eclipse. In addition, scouting around some BLM backroads that I was already familiar with, we found a great spot to camp, at the end of a rough gravel road, so stayed there on the Saturday and Sunday before the eclipse on Monday.

The above linked gallery has images from the first two days of the trip after arriving in central Oregon, from both the Painted Hills and Clarno Units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, as well as from the "almost ghost town" of Shaniko.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

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Canada 150: Fireworks in New Westminster

Canada celebrated 150 years as an integrated nation this year, with July 1, 1867, being the day that the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were united into a single dominion of the British Empire. Note that Canada did not become fully independent until the Constitution Act of 1982 was passed!

Avoiding the huge crowds in and around downtown Vancouver, I met up with a few friends in New Westminster, to observe the Canada 150 celebration there. There were fireworks scheduled just in front of the River Market at Westminster Quay, and when we arrived early to find a spot to setup our cameras, the fireworks barge was still docked and being set up at the edge of the Fraser River - see photo #1 in the gallery. I called out and asked where the barge would be, and was told "... in the middle of the Fraser, about 100 meters west..." so we setup in a spot where we thought the fireworks would be visible to the right of the Inn at the Quay - photo #2. Well, much to my dismay, they towed the barge more like 600 meters to the west, thus totally messing with our intended composition. By the time the barge was stationary in the river, being kept on station with a tugboat on either end, there was not enough time to try and find another spot where we could incorporate the fireworks into an interesting foreground. Too bad!

In the gallery, the images that are wide, 16:9 aspect ratio, were some of the nicer still frames taken during the time-lapse with my X-Pro2, where I shot with the XF 10-24mm zoom and cropped to the wider format. The other, less rectangular shots (mostly verticals) were taken with the Fujifilm GFX 50S and 63mm lens. I will be posting a review on that medium format digital camera at some point in the future as well.

Following is a simple time-lapse I mentioned. Click on the image below to open the video (1080p - 13MB download) in a new window or tab. You can see the tugboats and barge moving back and forth, working to stay centred at more or less the same spot on the river...

Monday, July 3, 2017

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2017/03 California - Joshua Tree National Park

In mid-March, my friend Bill and I decided to make a quick run down to the southern California deserts. That region had received way above average rainfall and a wildflower "super-bloom" was fully in progress. Have a look at the above photo; normally that area of Joshua Tree National Park has rocky, sandy ground with a few sage-brushes dotting the slopes and maybe some tufts of drying grass. However back in March, as you can see, one could walk knee-deep in spots through carpets of blooming wildflowers!

Unfortunately it was too early for the bloom in the higher parts of Joshua Tree NP, where all the cool rock formations and, of course, the Joshua trees are located, so the slopes near the south entrance were the only spots to really see any wildflowers. With only this one area in bloom, we decided to head down to Anza Borrego Desert State Park the next day, a fair bit further south and where we knew the wildflowers were already fully developed.

This was the first time in over 20 years that I managed to make it down to southern CA during the peak of a wildflower super-bloom and it was indeed quite impressive! Stay tuned for more shots from Anza Borrego in the next few posts...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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NiSi "Natural Night Filter" Tests & Review

Gallery (36 images): NiSi Natural Night Filter Tests

[Updated June 10, 2017: post now has full review and gallery]
[Update Summer 2019: NiSi now also has 77mm and 82mm thread-on Natural Night Filters]

I recently purchased a NiSi Natural Night Filter, a filter designed to block certain wavelengths of light, namely those produced by sodium vapour and mercury vapour lamps. Sodium vapour city streetlights are what cause night shots in cities to have such a dominant yellow/orange colour cast. In the animated GIF image above, you can see what a dramatic difference the filter makes! Also check out the linked gallery above for some extensive comparisons.

Not yet having an existing drop-in filter holder, I also bought NiSi's filter holder system kit. I have not tried any of NiSi's other extensive set of filters, such as graduated NDs or the like, so my review is rather specific.  For simplicity sake, I will refer to this filter as the NNF from now on in the following review...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

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UBC Botanical Gardens w/Fujinon XF50mm f/2R WR

Gallery (30 images): 2017/05 - UBC Botanical Gardens

A wonderful day in the sun, shooting out at the UBC Botanical Gardens. All photos were taken with my new Fujinon XF 50mm f/2R WR lens. It focuses fairly closely on its own, without extension tubes and all the shots in the gallery were taken with just the lens itself.

Originally, I was going to write a review on this lens in conjunction with this posting, but the review will follow in the next few days and I will link to it from here, as well as from my other 50mm f/2 gallery, 2017 Spring has Finally Sprung! There will be one more gallery with some more shots from the 50mm to follow then as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

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2017 Spring has Finally Sprung!

Gallery (25 images): 2017 Spring has Finally Sprung!

After a long lazy lull in my blogging, I am finally back and plan on trying to post on a more regular basis! I have a backlog of work that I am going through, from previous years of trips, to new lens tests, filter tests, and more. In addition, I was down in southern California for a week to photograph the incredible wildflower "super bloom" they had, and another posting will come with photos from that trip too.

So... we have had many months of abysmal weather here in Vancouver, Canada. First there were months of cold weather with surprising amounts of snowfall that stuck around for weeks and weeks. Then we had a month plus of continuous rainy days, with seldom a hint of any sun. It has been a depressing few months, weather-wise, which probably contributed to my lack enthusiasm. In any case, recently the weather has warmed up and we've had a few fantastically beautiful days, so I've finally got out and started shooting again.

The above gallery are simply shots from a nice evening walk home from work the other day. Flowers and trees are in full bloom, and there were many great photo ops, just walking along one of my usual routes. All the photos were taken with Fujifilm's superb new XF 50mm f/2R WR lens, a light, compact prime that is weather and dust resistant, focuses quite close, is very sharp and renders out-of-focus backgrounds with nice smooth bokeh.

Notably, this is also one of the first galleries in a very long time where I have only relied on Adobe Lightroom for processing my Fujifilm X-Trans sensor raw files. Recent updates to Adobe's Creative Cloud apps have finally allowed Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw to very nearly catch up to the image quality available from third-party raw converters like PhotoNinja or Iridient Developer. While those raw converters still have Adobe beat for the absolute best low-ISO fine detail rendition, the differences are now slight enough that I no longer feel it necessary to step away from Lightroom unless I am making really big prints. So, the shots in this gallery were 100% Lightroom-only processed. Enjoy!