I mentioned in a recent post that I purchased a new 32mm Zeiss prime for my Fuji X-T2. If you read the post, you’re probably thinking I’m going to tell you how great the Zeiss is.
But I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with the Zeiss lens and will be doing a post about it in the future. But then I expect a lens like that to perform well. Because of this it hasn’t wowed me or blown me away with its performance.
But the Fuji 18-55mm has.
This is the kit lens that came with the X-T2 and I ignored. I think I paid a couple of hundred pounds extra to get this lens with the body and it seemed like the obvious thing to do. And perhaps that’s what’s stopped me from using it. I think I have taken the lens out a couple of times in the past and maybe shot a few frames. After all, I have the amazing 16-55, although that lacks stabilisation which the 18-55 has.
Recently, I took the 18-55 lens out twice and used it properly. When I first pulled up the images I shot with it, I thought I was looking at images from another lens. Even when I zoomed in to 2:1 magnification on my Mac I was quite shocked by the sharpness of this lens and the detail it’s resolved.
The image at the top of this post was taken using the 18-55. There’s loads of detail, even in more distant objects and colours are excellent. It’s also such as small lens that it’s easy to carry and pleasure to work with. I’m going to be taking it out with me more often.
Yesterday the weather forecast was promising to be good. It was cold, around 2 degrees Celsius with sunny intervals. It looked ideal weather for a short walk with my camera and probably worth driving out a little. After flicking through a few walking books, we decided to drive over to Crowden.
I suspect many of you reading this won’t know Crowden. It’s in the Peak District, located on the Woodhead Pass. If you’re travelling from Manchester to Sheffield along the pass, you come to a series of rather impressive Reservoirs a few miles past the turning for Glossop. Crowden is near to these.
The reservoirs do remind me a little of Ladybower on the Snake Pass (also going from Glossop to Sheffield) but the landscape is different. Ladybower although man mad appears pretty where the reservoirs at Crowden feel somehow darker and more foreboding.
This particular walk takes you along the banks of the reservoirs passing over one dam and then back across another. After this there is a gradual but sustained walk up the surrounding valley hills on one side. This eventually tops out to the moors, with some spectacular views across the valley and the Woodhead Pass.
Unfortunately for me the weather didn’t match the forecast. Instead it remained rather damp with a hazy mist covering the hills. There was the odd shaft of light breaking through the clouds in the distance, but nothing more. Had you told me these would be the conditions before I set off, I wouldn’t have bothered with the drive. But having already driven to Crowden we carried on. And I’m very pleased we did.
Although the conditions seemed poor photographically, I quickly came to appreciate the soft light that was being created by the most. Rather than viewing the scene with my Fuji X-T2 in colour, I switched it to monochrome, using the “Across Yellow” profile for additional contrast. I was completely taken aback by how good some of the images appeared on the back of the Fuji.
One tip that seems to work for me is to use the screen on the back of the camera to help visualise possible finished images. If I look through the viewfinder I don’t get this same inspiration. Instead I see something that looks more like the unprocessed RAW file. That’s why I often use the back of the camera unless the lighting conditions are tricky, in which case I switch to the viewfinder.
Overall, I managed a few shots that I find quite pleasing and I will include some of these in future blog posts. Surprisingly, quite a lot of these work just as well if not better in colour; the image at the top of this blog post is one example. The reservoir view above is another.
If your interested, the book I used was the Pathfinder Peak District Walks. My copy is out of print and has been replaced by the Pathfinder Peak District Outstanding Circular Walks book. The walk is number 21 in this book. Surprisingly the view on cover of the book is taken from near the start walk (it’s a different cover from the original book).
Yesterday I was out with a friend in the Peak District shooting. The weather had been forecast as dry but misty/foggy. Then at the last minute the forecast changed to rain all day. Despite this we decided to wait it out in Padley Gorge and eventually we had a dry spell, or at least dry enough to shoot.
Despite the poor conditions, one benefit of the wet is that the foliage responds really well. The only thing I regret about this image is that I didn’t use my polarising filter to reduce the glare on grass in the middle of the frame. Having said that, had I used the polarising filter, the saturation effect may have been too strong.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
I was torn today between the shots I could share for the weekly Friday image. I seem to have some great alternatives I could show. I don’t know if its because I have been trying to get out more with my Fuji X-T2 or if it’s just the weather has been kind. Whatever the reason, I don’t care as I’m happy I have so shots I actually like.
In the end I chose one from last weekend, which I captured with my new Fuji 55-200. The image is lovely and sharp and the long lens has helped me compress the frame nicely. The mountain peak on the far left is called Pike O’Stickle which I have climbed several times. With the 55-200 lens fitted I am able to see small figures stood on top in some shots. Impressive.
But its not this sharp detail that made me want to share the image. It’s actually the lovely light that’s falling on the scene. The more I shoot landscapes, the more I seem to love areas of dark shadows where some details are picked out by warm light. Winter seems the perfect time of year for this.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
I don’t know about you but my email in box has been flooded with email over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. It has though provided me with two opportunities:
A great time to unsubscribe from a lot of lists of people who only want to sell me stuff but don’t provide additional value.
Some investment opportunities to purchase new equipment and software. My wife tells me this is called shopping but I think it’s investing.
One of the investments I was able to make was a new Fuji 50-200mm lens. I was able to purchase this little gem new, for the same price as a used model when you take into account Fuji’s cashback.
Now, I have owned one of these lenses before, but it was returned for repair following poor results. To cut a long story short, it was eventually traded towards a new 50-140mm lens with extender. This is an excellent lens which I still have and use. This last statement may cause you to wonder why I have now purchased the 50-200 lens.
The answer is a simple size and weight. The 50-140 lens is great but it’s very big and heavy whilst the 50-200 is smaller and lighter. Next year I’m planning a few longer treks and backpacking trips with the Fuji X-T2. I therefore wanted to invest in the smaller and lighter lens.
At the weekend, I had the opportunity to try out this new lens. So far, the results look very impressive. The lens has captured a huge amount of detail and is very sharp when viewed on screen or printed.
The only area which I haven’t been able to test properly is the 200mm focal length. Whilst I did shoot some images at that focal length, they appear a little soft. I do though think this is due to poor lighting conditions, causing a longer exposure of several seconds. Whilst the camera was tripod mounted the wind was very strong. I think much of the softness is related to the conditions rather than the lens.
In addition to the lens, I made a couple of software investments with upgrades to both On 1 Photo RAW and Alien Skin Exposure. I will be sharing my thoughts about these in the near future; there are a couple of surprising developments in both to mention.
Yesterday I visited Harrogate, taking my wife to an exhibition. Whilst I was in the area I decided to visit Bolton Abbey. Last time I visited I was at school so that that should tell you it was a very long time ago. I also decided to take along the Fuji X-T2 in case any photo opportunities presented themselves.
The drive to Harrogate and then Bolton Abbey was much longer than expected due to the traffic and rush hour accidents, but the weather was lovely. That was until I reached the Abbey. As I got out of the car the rain started. After that, I managed a few grab shots between showers before the heavy persistent rain set in.
The image you see here was shot using the Fuji X-T2 and 16-55 lens. The storm lighting was amazing and I didn’t need to use any filters for this. Post processing was carried out using X-Transformer to convert the Fuji RAW file to DNG format. This was then processed in Lightroom using the Provia colour profile.
Although I only managed around 30 minutes of shooting, it was good to be out with a camera.
At the weekend, I did something I haven’t done before. I headed up into the hills behind Dovestones reservoir for photography. Now I need to qualify that statement as I have taken plenty of photographs in the area. The difference this time is that I was heading out for the purpose of photography and nothing else. Usually when I take photos here, I’m out walking and happen to have a camera with me.
The problem when you’re out walking is that you have a different primary purpose. You may pause for a few seconds or even minutes to grab a shot, but it can’t compare to dedicated photography. The most noticeable difference for me this weekend was that I would leave the path regularly to find the right viewpoint as well as the best angles and composition. This probably seems obvious but I hadn’t previously realised how wedded to the path I was when walking.
The image above, which is one from the weekend is a good example. To reach this you need to leave the path and scramble over some rocks. You would never achieve this view or vantage point by keeping to the path, even though it’s only around 100m from the path. What it’s made me realise is that whilst I have always maintained that this is a difficult area to photograph, the problem was my approach. I’m now wondering how many other good locations I have missed because I had the wrong primary purpose.
I should also say a big thanks to Dave who was the reason I ventured up to this location in the first place. He had wanted to photograph the Trinnacle rock for a long time (that image is still to come). Although I was never keen to photograph in the area (because I thought it was difficult and I live here) I said I would take him as it can be tricky to find. If it hadn’t been for this I would possibly never have opened my mind to the possibility.