Friday, June 30, 2017

The Incredible Reversible Lens + The Case For 1 Camera & 1 Lens + Fujifilm X Camera & Lens For Under $300

Coffee & Camera - South Weber, Utah
Captured with a Fujifilm X-E1 & an X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm lens.
This post includes three separate articles that are closely related to each other. To begin we have The Incredible Reversible Lens, followed by The Case For 1 Camera & 1 Lens, and concluded with Fujifilm X Camera & Lens For Under $300. Feel free to jump to what interests you most, but I think you'll appreciate all three articles.

Why a three-in-one post? These three stories are closely intertwined, so it only makes sense to share them together. I hope you enjoy reading them. Maybe you will find something useful that you can apply to your own photography. So grab a beverage of choice and dive right in!

The Incredible Reversible Lens
The Incredible Reversible Lens - South Weber, Utah
I love pairing vintage lenses with my Fujifilm X series camera. It reminds me of pre-digital-photography, back in the days when I shot 35mm film. I get the look and experience that I want, but with the convenience of modern digital capture.

One of my favorite vintage lenses is the X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM, which I paid $20 for. This is a fully manual lens made for Fujifilm Fujica 35mm cameras back in the early and mid 1980's. Today's Fujinon lenses are great, and they were great back then, too. The X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM is a solid option that produces excellent results. It has a 75mm equivalent focal length on an APS-C camera, making it slightly telephoto.

Even though this is a Fujinon lens, it won't work on your Fujifilm X camera without an adapter. X-Fujinon and Fujinon-X are two different mounts. Thankfully adapters are really cheap, mine was about $10.

Here are a few examples of photographs that I've captured with this lens paired to my Fujifilm X-E1:
Even Open On A Rainy Day - Ogden, Utah
Birds On A Vase - South Weber, Utah
The Tetons and the Snake River, 2017 - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
A few weeks ago I wrote how I accidentally made macro lenses with some old Russian glass. Ever since then I've been playing around with macro photography. I reignited an old interest! I used to have a macro lens when I had a Nikon DSLR, but I didn't purchase one when I switched to Fujifilm.

One way to turn a non-macro lens into a macro lens is to use it in reverse by mounting it backwards. I found an adapter that has filter threads on it specifically for backwards mounting a lens. The adapter has 58mm threads on it, and the X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm lens has 49mm threads, so I had to also purchase a step down ring. Both items together cost $7, including shipping.

When mounted backwards on my camera, the lens gives the images a completely different look than when mounted normal, and not just because you focus close. There is a ton of character that comes out, some of it good and some of it not.

There's a ridiculous amount of softness in the corners and on the edges. So much so that I decided to shoot in a square crop. There's still a fair amount of corner softness when shot square, but not nearly as much when in 3:2. It's a little Holga-esque, but without the vignetting.

Prior to this I'd never shot square with a digital camera. I'd cropped to square after the fact occasionally, but never shot square in-camera. However, in the past I've used medium-format film cameras that shot square, so I'm not entirely a stranger to the shape. You have to think about composition differently.

Here are a few examples of photographs captured with the lens mounted backwards:
Spring Dragonfly - South Weber, Utah
Velvia Fujichrome - South Weber, Utah
Bag Strap - South Weber, Utah
The reason that I call it "the incredible reversible lens" is because I leave all of the adapters attached, and I switch it back and forth (or normal and backwards) depending on what type of image I'm capturing. One lens, two uses. That's pretty incredible, right?

For only $7 I was able to turn a favorite lens into an even better lens because I made it more versatile. I'm able to use it as I normally would, and quickly switch it around when I want to focus close. You can do this with any lens, and not just the X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM.

Here's what the incredible reversible lens looks like in normal use:
Fujifilm X-E1 & 50mm Lens - Normal Use
And here's what it looks like mounted backwards:
Fujifilm X-E1 & 50mm Lens - Mounted Backwards

The Case For 1 Camera & 1 Lens
Photography Essentials - South Weber, Utah
Captured using a Fujifilm X-E1 & an X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM lens.
My fourth child was born a month ago. Over the last several weeks I've watched a bunch of photography documentaries on Netflix, YouTube and other on-demand streaming services. Typically at two or three o'clock in the morning while feeding the baby a bottle.

One thing that struck me is how many photographers use only one camera and one lens. I'm talking about very successful photographers, those who are household names within the picture taking community. One camera and one lens. For years. For decades, even.

Some actually had two cameras: a 35mm and a medium-format, with one lens for each. But they never had two on them at once.

Obviously there were plenty of other photographers in those documentaries that had all sorts of gear. Everybody is different and everyone makes their own choices when it comes to cameras and lenses. Different strokes for different folks. It was just surprising to me how many highly successful photographers keep their gear choices super simple.

Back in the days when I shot 35mm film, I had one camera and one lens: a Canon A-E1 with a 50mm f/1.8. For years that's all I had and that's all I used. I didn't have multiple cameras and lenses until I got into digital photography about eight years ago. And I kept my film gear for a long time, while my digital gear seems to get "upgraded" every year or two.

Last week I went camping in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. It's a beautiful hidden gem along the Portneuf River in southern Idaho about halfway between Salt Lake City and Jackson Hole. My family and I had a good time over the three days we spent there.

For my gear I brought along one camera and one lens: a Fujifilm X-E1 and an X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM, set up as described in The Incredible Reversible Lens above. I kept it simple. And I very much enjoyed the simplicity of it. I appreciated not carrying around a camera bag loaded with stuff. It was nice not having to think about what camera and lens combo would be best for a particular image.

Occasionally I wished that I had a longer or wider lens to get some shot, but not very often. Knowing that I had what I had, I looked for compositions that I could make and tried not to worry about what I couldn't do. I think that the restriction of one camera and one lens was actually beneficial, because I had to look at some scenes differently than I otherwise would have.

Pablo Picasso said, "If you have five elements available use only four. If you have four elements use three." Applying this principal to photography gear, don't bring all of your gear with you, but instead limit yourself to some extent. Poet Charles Bernstein said, "Art often thrives on limitations."

Imposing a restriction of one camera and one lens might seem disadvantageous, but I think it was actually beneficial to my art. Oftentimes less is more. I plan on taking this approach more often.

Here are the photographs from that camping trip, captured using one camera and one lens:

Black & White
In The Portneuf Mountains - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Clouds Over Portneuf Mountain Ridge - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Tree By The Portneuf River - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Bush Between The Trees - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Misty Monochrome - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Tree Branch Over Portneuf River - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Tent By The River - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Bristol Park - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Bridge Over Portneuf River - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Indoor Plant - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Ace Is The Place To Pet A Dog - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Monochrome Joy - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
No Public Restrooms - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Play Here - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Pick-Up Window - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Purple Lupine - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Rain Drops On A Flower - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Tiny Purple Wildflowers - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Small Spring Bloom - Lava Hot Springs, Idao
Ladybug On A Leaf - Lava Hot Springs
Wood Table - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
When - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Jukebox - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Boarded Window - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Hot Spring - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Hidden Waterfall - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Bridge & Blue Car - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Camping Chairs - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Riverside Tent - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Ca,ping Along The River - Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
All of these images were camera-made JPEGs, shot using Astia, Provia or Monochrome+R film simulations. They received a light post-processing in Nik Collection software and/or Alien Skin Exposure X.

Fujifilm X Camera & Lens For Under $300
Fujifilm X-E1 & 18-55mm Lens
Cost is something that for years kept me from buying a Fujifilm X camera. Now you can get into the system for under a grand, but a couple years ago that wasn't really possible. While the cameras are cheaper than full-frame, it's still a healthy investment to switch to Fujifilm. Like a lot of people, I'm not made of money and I can't drop a bunch of cash on gear.

One year ago I purchased a gently used Fujifilm X-E1 with the kit 18-55mm lens for $575. I just love the camera and couldn't be happier with the decision to buy it. I've had a number of different digital cameras (it's my ninth digital camera, and my sixth interchangeable-lens digital camera), and I've never had one that I enjoyed using more--not even close!

While the X-E1 is about five years old now, it's still an excellent camera that produces great images. It's a couple of models old (the X-E2S is the current version, and an X-E3 is rumored to be on the way before the end of the year), but it doesn't seem outdated when I use it. I love matching it with vintage glass, such as the X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM lens mentioned in the two articles above this one. The camera seems perfectly made for pairing with manual lenses.

For those who have wanted to get into the Fujifilm X series but could never afford to, I have a great solution! You can actually get started for under $300!

I mentioned that I purchased my X-E1 for $575 with the kit 18-55mm lens. I used that lens for about 10 months, and recently sold it for $315. That means I paid only $260 for the camera body! The X-Fujinon f/1.9 50mm DM lens cost me only $20, and I paid $10 for the adapter that allows me to attach it to the camera (X-Fujinon and Fuji X mount are two different things). I also purchased an adapter for reverse mounting and a step down ring for $7 as described in The Incredible Reversible Lens at the top of this post.

To recap, the X-E1 camera was $260, the lens was $20, and all of the adapters and such were $17. That totals only $297! I don't think there's a better bargain in all of digital photography. Looking at eBay, you can actually buy an X-E1 body for even less, and you might be able to get this whole arrangement for as little as $250.

So if you've wanted to try a Fujifilm X camera but couldn't afford it, well, now you can. There are no excuses. Even if you don't have $300 today, look into PayPal credit, they have options for six months with no payment and no interest. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and give the X-Trans sensor a try!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Metal Prints Available For Purchase

Have you ever wanted to hang one of my photographs on your home or office wall? Well, I've got a unique opportunity for you!

I'm raising some money for new gear, and I'm giving you a chance to invest in the beauty of art and invest the future creation of art. I'm offering, for a very limited time, six of my images for sale. Pick one or two or all six!

The photographs will be printed 16" x 24" on metal. These are high-quality modern prints that are absolutely beautiful! They're gallery quality. They look like a million dollars! They come ready to hang. You'll want to show them off!

Printing on a metal panel isn't a cheap process, but if you've ever seen these type of prints, you already know that it's worth the extra cost. The results are stunning! They're conversation pieces for sure!

Each metal print is available for $175.00 (which includes tax and shipping). That's a great deal for beautiful art! Buy one or as many as you'd like! The process and printing time is about two weeks, plus a little time for shipping. Just let me know via email which one (or ones) you'd like to purchase. My email address is You can also use the Contact Form on my homepage. I accept PayPal (it's a different email address, so let me know prior to paying anything) or checks, with PayPal the preferred method. The deadline to get your order in is June 25th.

Below are the six options:

#1: Red Chairs - Cambria, California

#2: Mirrored Mountain - Mirror Lake, Utah

#3: Mormon Barn - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

#4: Little Blooms, Big Blooms - Lehi, Utah

#5: Tricycle In The Woods - South Weber, Utah

#6: Snake River Fog - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Thank you for your support of my photography! As Ansel Adams said, "There are two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." That means you are an integral part of my photography! Thank you for visiting my website and viewing my images. And if you should buy my photographs and hang them on your wall, I'm honored and grateful! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Report: Fujifilm "Helping" Nikon - And What They Should Do

It has been reported that the Japanese government is trying to get Fujifilm to "help" Nikon, which has been deeply struggling over the last couple of years, losing huge sums of money. What the exact involvement of the government is and how much help, if any, Fujifilm may provide is very unclear.

It's important to understand that the way things work in Japan is much different than many western countries. You can't apply the rules and common practices of America to what happens there. It's just so much different, legally and culturally.

What we do know is that there have been offers to buy Nikon and move the company out of Japan, relocating it to China, South Korea or Taiwan. The Japanese government wants Nikon to remain a Japanese company, and they are making an effort to prevent the iconic camera company from leaving.

That's where Fujifilm's "help" might come in. Fujifilm has returned from the brink of death to become a healthy, profitable and innovative company. They know how to turn things around and to thrive, not just survive. They can offer Nikon a good deal of direction and advice. And possibly some money. At this point no one knows.

The question is, what kind of direction should Fujifilm give to Nikon? How much influence, if any, will Fujifilm have over future Nikon products?

If I were Fujifilm, there are some things that I would suggest that Nikon do and not do. To be clear, these are my own ideas, and I have no affiliation with either company.

I would start off by designing some new full-frame DSLRs. Nikon had some success four or five years ago, but didn't follow that up with anything. Where's the D820? Where's the D760? Where's the D620?

Nikon shouldn't take the same design and slap a new decal on it. It's been too many years, and people are waiting for an upgrade--and wanting a good reason to upgrade. The new cameras need to be fresh and they need to have some advancements over previous models.

The bodies of the DSLRs should be modeled closely after vintage Nikon SLRs, like the Nikon F2 and the Nikon FE. Give the new cameras a retro shape. Make a statement, yet keep it classy. Nikon should include shutter speed and ISO dials on the bodies like Fujifilm does.

There should be five new full-frame cameras. One would be a 24-megapixel low-end model that is still feature-rich and would also be fairly small and lightweight. Make it the smallest and lightest full-frame DSLR out there, and make that a selling point. It also needs to be affordable, so make it one of the least-expensive full-frame options. This camera would be an excellent introduction to full-frame for someone coming from APS-C and would also make an excellent second body for someone who needs that.

The next camera would be a mid-level option with 36-megapixels. It needs to be a full-featured body with everything the pro would want. Basically, take the D810 and place it in a retro design and update all the bells and whistles to bring it to today's standards.

The third camera would be in the same body and have the same features as the 36-megapixel camera, but with a 46-megapixel sensor in it. For those wanting maximum resolution, this would be their model.

The fourth camera would share the same body as the previous two, but it would have a 16-megapixel sensor that would be optimized for speed and high-ISO (and it needs to be excellent at both). This would be the sports photographer's option. The entry-level camera should have 4K video, the others should have 6K or 8K.

The final full-frame camera would have a similar retro design, but it would be a 35mm film camera. Yes, a film camera! Film is making a comeback (to an extent), and for Fujifilm this could help with their film sales. It would be really fascinating if Nikon made a brand-new pro-level film camera, and it would certainly get a lot of publicity.

I know Nikon tried a retro-looking DSLR not very long ago that completely failed. The problem was that Nikon got everything wrong that they possibly could. Fujifilm seems to get a lot right with their designs, so perhaps they could help Nikon with this.

As far as APS-C DSLRs, I like the D3000 series a lot. These are very basic entry-level DSLRs, but they are small, lightweight, affordable and produce good image quality. They are easy to recommend for someone wanting their first better camera, and they are excellent as spare bodies. Nikon just needs to make it a little more enticing by including a few of the features from the D5000 series cameras (while still keeping the cost low).

Nikon should figure out which cameras sell better, the D5000 series or the D7000 series. Whichever one is more profitable, keep that camera and nix the other. If you keep the D5000 series, include some of the favorite features from the D7000 line. If it's the D7000 line that you keep, figure out a way to make it a little more affordable without compromising the features. In other words, kind of merge the two into one camera.

Why only two APS-C DSLRs? To keep costs low. Make two DSLRs that people will buy. Want something entry-level? You've got one choice. Want something more advanced? You've got one option. Fewer choices can be a good thing, just as long as they aren't missing key features.

Nikon should also make a compact fixed-lens APS-C camera. Fujifilm might not like competition for the X100 and X70 series, so perhaps it should have a different focal length (35mm, perhaps?). Make it look retro (maybe really retro, like a Leica II). Have it be a conversation piece. All three APS-C cameras would share the same 24-megapixel sensor.

If I were Fujifilm, I'd suggest against mirrorless. Why? Because if Nikon were to make a successful mirrorless camera, it could eat away at Fujifilm's market. I wouldn't offer any help in this category. However, if Nikon wanted to quickly get some quality mirrorless cameras on the market, they should buy Samsung's now-defunct NX line, and change the lens mount to Nikon DX.

I think Nikon should mostly scrap the pocket point-and-shoot genre. Sales of those types of cameras have plummeted thanks to cellphones. Have two options, one for entry level (auto-everything) and one for more advanced users (larger sensor, better lens and manual controls), and leave it at that. Don't waste a bunch of time and money on a dying category.

Where Nikon has an opportunity is in the cellphone market. Make an Android phone that has a zoom lens. It doesn't have to be crazy, but a cellphone with a 3 times or (even better) five times optical zoom would get people's attention. The biggest problem with cellphone cameras are that they're not particularly versatile. I think people would buy a cellphone with a zoom lens on it, especially if it had Nikon's label on it.

Another money-maker for Nikon is glass. A good in-demand lens will return significant profits. They should look at options for FX and DX where they aren't currently manufacturing a lens that people would buy. I know that for DX, for example, what is badly missing is a fast wide-angle option. Come up with four or five lenses to fill out what's missing. I definitely see some potential profits here.

Nikon should follow Fujifilm's blueprint, and that's to immediately cut what's causing the big loses, make products that consumers will get excited about, and diversify so that not all of the eggs are in one basket. Don't have too many of the same product. And make sure that your customer service is top-notch. Boom, Nikon's fixed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Abandonment: Rural Homes - Salt Lake City, Utah

Losing History - Salt Lake City, Utah
I used to photograph abandoned places frequently. I let more than a year go by between this exploration and the previous one. I need to find more abandoned places to photograph!

I think it's an important photographic genre because people should be more aware of how society handles unwanted places (leaving piles of junk and rubble to decay) and because eventually these buildings will be gone forever (there is a limited opportunity to document them). It's also a fascinating and haunting subject, typically full of mystery and unanswered questions.

This particular site is in rural Salt Lake City near the airport. There were two sets of structures on the property: a newer home and garage in the front, and an older home and what might have been a workshop or shed or small home in the back.

The newer home was boarded up, but someone had removed half of the plywood over the door, which allowed access to the interior. Inside was vacant and empty and mostly uninteresting. The roof was open in a couple of places and the elements were taking a toll of what remained.

The garage had some old paint cans and some other remnants that weren't removed, but it was also fairly boring as far as explorations go. The place had been vandalized--windows were broken and walls tagged with graffiti.
Illuminating Decay - Salt Lake City, Utah
The older house in the back was more fascinating. There were some old couches and left-behind junk inside. The front porch had collapsed and looked unsafe to be around. I wanted to go upstairs, but then I spotted some large beehives and evidence of beekeeping, so I left before getting into a sticky situation (pun intended).

I didn't explore the other building, which was probably a workshop or shed or possibly a small guest house. The grass and brush were fairly tall around it, and I didn't need to encounter any wildlife. No, it was time to go.

I have no idea any of the history of these buildings. It would be nice to know when they were built, who lived in them and the story behind the older places in the back becoming abandoned. I will probably never know. For whoever does know the answers, soon those stories will be lost to time, unless they write them down.

A couple of weeks after photographing this place, the newer house and garage in the front were completely leveled. They're gone, and only the foundations remain. I was one of the last people to photograph those buildings. The older buildings in the back are still standing, but their days are very limited, and a sign states that an industrial complex is coming soon.

I used a Fujifilm X-E1 with a Rokinon f/2 12mm lens attached to capture these images.
Abandoned House In Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah
Still, I Love You - Salt Lake City, Utah
Tree of Broken Glass - Salt Lake City, Utah
The Place Had An Air of Neglect - Salt Lake City, Utah
Gate To Indifference - Salt Lake City, Utah
Little House In The Valley - Salt Lake City, Utah