DJI Inspire 2 with X7 Camera and Lenses Samples

I do love drones. I crave the aerial perspective and sense of being above it all to capture landscape imagery. I started with a Mavic and worked my way up through the Mavic 2 to the Inspire, then the Inspire 2. For my purposes here, I won’t get into my fondness for my Autel Evo 2.

I was very happy with the X5S camera on the Inspire 2. It gave a certain something to the images and video that was lacking in the folding drone series. That you could add various fast primes to it was a bonus. I really liked the view provided by the Panasonic 45mm 1.8, which on the X5S, gave a 90mm perspective. Very un-dronelike.

I was aware of the X7 camera and read the reviews. Those who had something to say commented on the slow lenses, softness etc.. After several mediocre adventures strapping my Sony a7r2 to the Inspire, I decided to check out the X7. I bought a used setup on ebay, and added a 50mm lens. The sensor on the X7 is basically a crop sensor, which is a step ahead of the 1″ sensors typically found on drone cameras. The 50mm lens would give a 75mm view. I also tried the Laowa 9mm wide angle manual lens but wasn’t really impressed. MF for me was hard to get right and getting the lens and camera to come together was challenging. Hot swapping was recommended. I’ll check back on it.

So the X7/50mm 2.8 lens combo became my quick favorite. Here are a few examples around Seattle of what I was able to capture. I felt like these were better than the x5s, but of course short of my GFX100s.

This was a dusk view of Seattle and Lake Union, DJI X7 and 50mm 2.8 lens.

This is a sunset view across Bellevue to Lake Washington and Seattle beyond. DJI X7 and 50mm 2.8 lens.

These are both DJI X7 50mm 2.8 lens panoramas, stitched in Lightroom. I found the 50 makes great pano panels and they sharpen up nicely in Topaz Sharpen AI.

More experimenting to come. I still keep my X5S and Panasonic 25mm 1.4 around for deep blue hour shots. I will keep pushing the X7 and its various lenses. So far, I’m glad I picked one up and made my own conclusions.

And now the Inspire 3 is out. Full frame, uses the same DL lenses as the X7. I’m not an early adopter and seldom buy new. But I do wonder if its quieter?

North Cascades Aerial Views Black and White

I’ve done several flights up to the North Cascades which are spectacular this time of year with fresh snow and good light. My camera has always been Fuji’s GFX100s and GF45-100mm lens for the type of framing I am after. Lately, I have delved into black and white conversions for these images, which I think really adds to their visual appeal. Here are some examples:

This is Mount Shuksan, its glaciers and the summit pyramid.

This is Mount Baker and details of its glaciers and snowfields

This is a view of the north side of the Pickets Range

This is Spire Peak with Glacier Peak in the distance.

I hope you have enjoyed these aerial views converted to black and white. Prints available on my site

First Mountain Snow Views Around the Northwest

Every year, I try to time some photography to catch the first snow arriving at elevation on prominent peaks around the Pacific Northwest. I was able to get out to the Washington Pass area the day before it closed for a big snowstorm. Here are some aerial views:

Aerial view across Cutthroat Peak with fresh snow.
Aerial view across Early Winters Spires and Liberty Bell
Aerial view across Kangaroo Ridge

The next day, the pass and highway was closed for snow. I felt pretty lucky to get this light. I then focused on getting down around Mount Rainier outside the Park for some views from the south. I found a weather window and got a few images:

Not too much snow yet on the access roads, so I could get where I needed to be. Now the wait until sunset for some glow.

I was lucky to pick the right day to be down there, and hope to get back with even more snow. And then some snow camping as the season progresses.

Snow camping around Paradise Glacier last year 2022

Prints available here:

Back from a Canadian Fall Colors Roadtrip

Drove up to my favorite Canadian Rockies spots for fall colors with the Fuji GFX100s camera and various lenses. Covid restrictions into Canada had been eased so there were fewer hassles getting across the Border. I made it to Golden, BC in about 8 hours, where I stopped for a rest and overnight. Then I drove on to Saskatchewan Crossing for another overnight and a few of my favorite aqua-colored alpine lakes.

Crystal Aqua Emerald Lake GFX100s

Driving up the Icefields Parkway for more colors

Icefields Parkway GFX100s

Stopped by Peyto Lake on a beautiful day…

I stopped for an overnight at The Crossing where I was able to visit one of my favorite local lakes for flooded Aspens.

Flooded Aspens GFX100s

Morning light was especially beautiful on these trees and their reflections in the lake.

More Flooded Aspens GFX100s

One morning, I was able to put the drone up above an inversion outside the Park for some unique views.

Above the Inversion with Morning Light Autel Robotics Evo 2 Drone

And the colorful rivers below…

Soon, it was time to head south again for Lake O’Hara. More soon…

Canon 400mm 2.8 ii for Birds

My friend is really into bird photography and encouraged me to join him one morning up in the Skagit Valley Tulip Fields. I rented a Canon 400mm 2.8 to adapt onto my Fuji GFX100s and see what I could capture. We got there pre-sunrise and I learned the ways of the Savannah Sparrows. If you see a bird, and it flies away, it will be back. That is it’s territory. So I found this one bird and set it up with the tulip rows and a tractor background and waited for it to return. I captured it handheld as it burst into song atop a red tulip.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Sparrow Singing

I found the Canon 400mm 2.8 ii to be relatively easy to handhold, at least compared to my 200mm 1.8 and the autofocus worked. It wasn’t Sony A1 fast but I got mostly keepers. Having 100 megapixel images to play with gave me some cropping leeway. Here are a few more shots of my new favorite subject.

Savannah Sparrow singing atop a red Tulip
Another Sparrow Singing Atop a Red Tulip Canon 400mm 2.8
Sparrow Staredown Canon 400mm 2.8
Such Happy Birds Canon 400mm 2.8 ii

Really enjoyed this and might rent the lens again or try the Canon 600mm f4 as well.

Lake O’Hara: My Spot to be for Fall Colors

I remember reading about Lake O’Hara several years ago. An incredible jewel of the Canadian Rockies, especially for fall colors. Two ways to be there in the golden light: $1,000 a night cabins at the Lake O’Hara Lodge or a highly competitive reservations only campground. I learned the ways of the campground and got a spot. That was a few years ago. Now in 2021, with Covid raging and borders barely open, I secured my reservations and ventured to this special place for three nights.

Weather had been mild, but the larches were turning and colors were bursting forth. I brought my most spacious four season tent, a Fjallraven Abisko, and a ton of food and snacks and camped on Pad 5.

Fjallraven tent ready for anything
Everyone enjoying the Lake O’Hara campground

The next three days, I got busy hiking up to my favorite spots as well as checking out some new locales. This area is unique and awe-inspiring.

Larches up and around Opabin Plateau GFX100s
My favorite Opabin pond with larches and peaks reflected. GFX100s
The Classic View from Opabin towards dusk. GFX100s
Mount Huber reflected in a small pond on the Opabin Plateau. GFX100s
Fall Colors going strong on the Plateau. GFX100s

Its a short hike from the campground to the Plateau, using a headlamp if you are aiming for sunrise/sunset colors. The trail is clearly marked and easy to follow. My next post will get into what else in the area.

Fall Colors Road Trip to Canada, via Montana

Decided to head north to Canada for some fall colors photography. I was eager to get my new Fuji GFX100s camera and lenses into some of my favorite fall colors destinations. I scrambled for Lake O’Hara camping reservations and came up with 3 nights with considerable effort. I also wanted to find a location where Aspen trees were flooded with the aqua waters of a Canadian Rockies lake. I had heard about this scene from a friend and was lucky to find it.

I chose the route coming across I90 into Montana and then heading north. This allowed me to stop by Glacier National Park for some scouting and photography. Below are some of the highlights of the trip in a series of photos.

Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park Fuji GFX100s and GF45-100 lens
Glacier National Park Citadel Mountain Fuji GFX100s
Going to the Sun Peak Glacier National Park GFX100s

Leaving Glacier National Park, my first stop was north to the area around Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.

Flooded Aspens in an aqua lake GFX100s
Another view of flooded Aspens GFX100s
A serene, painterly view of a grove of Aspens in the lake. GFX100s
Aspens showing fall colors reflected in the aqua waters. GFX100s

After this stop, I headed south for my 3 days of camping at Lake O’Hara. This is an annual thing for me, covid allowing of course.

Finally Travelling Again – Back to Iceland 2021

Honestly it felt surreal to be back in the airport heading to Iceland. Going through security, I had several cans of Starbucks Double Shot coffee in my pack. I was clearly out of practice. That being said, I was happy to be heading to Iceland for two weeks. Its my favorite place to be in May/June.

I was packing my new Fujifilm GFX100s camera, which arrived the day before I left. I had carefully packed to be able to camp remotely in the Highlands and felt like I was ready for anything. A few things I learned:

– People are thrilled tourism is returning.

– Gas still expensive ($8/gal) I rented a Dacia Duster from @Icerental4x4 and had a great experience.

– Costco Reykjavik! Stop in to load up with supplies. Locals say this is the cheapest gas available.

– Solitude and beauty easy to find.

– Tested for covid arriving and departing

– F roads are starting to open F208 is a personal favorite and it was open from the north.

I had rented a 4×4 with one of those pop-top tents on the top. I did a mix of camping with this and occasional nights in hotels. The pop-top tent is a great idea, but it struggles with high winds and vertical blowing rain.

A few photos from my adventures:

Rains the first few days meant snow in the upper elevations GFX100s
Icelandic horses are so friendly GFX100s and Canon 70-200 2.8 ii
Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon Sunset GFX100s and Contax 35-70mm
Glacial Ice on the Beach GFX100s and Contax 35-70mm
Icelandic Highlands at sunrise GFX100s

I also brough a new drone having sold off my DJI products. Autel Robotics Evo 2 Pro. Really happy with the images captured from above Iceland

Over Iceland Stokksnes Braided Rivers
Over one of Iceland’s Braided Blue Rivers aglow with glacial silt
Over the Icelandic Highlands at sunrise
Winding aqua glacial rivers from above
Over Iceland’s Blood Red Craters

I felt like two weeks was the perfect time for a solo road trip adventure. Very happy with my recent trip to #Iceland and hope to get back next year. #travel #photography #GFX100s

Enchantments Fall Colors Backpacking with the Fuji GFX50s

Got a solo Enchantments Core camping permit and headed up into my favorite place to be in October.  Snow free, but hazy on Thursday but the haze left the area by Friday.  The trail up is busy from Stuart Lake Trailhead, as you would expect this time of the year.  Took me about 5 hours to get into the Core and I camped in one of my favorite areas around the Crystal Lake viewpoint.  I paid off the pikas (a contribution to the Benevolent Pika Assocation) and they mostly left my tent alone.  I forgot shorts but who would ever expect to need them in October  🙂

It was getting windy and nippier with a bit of ice on smaller ponds as I left.  I love chatting with Enchantments hikers.  Like-minded crazies.  Everyone, well mostly everyone, is happy to be there and has great stories.  I took about 1500 photos and am about halfway through them. I was pretty sore getting back to the trailhead about 5 hours later. Predictably, two weeks later, I wanted to go back.

Some good choices/Things I was happy to have with me:

26lb total weight Zpacks Arc Blast backpack for four days including Zpacks Triplex tent, Neoair XTherm pad, Zpacks 5 degree quilt and 10 lbs of camera gear (Fuji GFX50s and GF32-64mm lens).

Zpacks Triplex Tent, at 1.5 lbs., was a good choice for this trip and obviously a ton of room for just me. Each time I hike into the Enchantments, I go over my tent choices. Previously, Big Agnes’s Copper Spur or Tarptent’s Protrail have won out. Freestanding tents have an advantage up here since they don’t depend on stakes which can be difficult to sink into crushed granite. I found a “meadow” of good sod to work with for the stakes around the Crystal Lake viewpoint area. A massive shady larch also helped with the winds and mid-day sun.

Water filter and one small plastic water bottle so I’m not weighed down and then electrolyte tablets to prevent leg cramps. Hydration packs might be ok when you are 25 but at 54, I’m all about saving weight.

Solar panel for charging.  There are a few spots where I got a hair of Verizon LTE coverage but this ate battery power.

Cliff Bar’s new coffee flavors.

A good book and light to relax and let the legs rest.

TP and a Trowel so I’m not one of those people.

Lots of experience in the area which allowed me to encourage and advise others which makes me happy. I also appreciated coming in on the Stuart Lake/Asgaard approach. Snow Lakes side seems like it might be “easier” but its a long slog with a stiff climb at the end up in to Lake Vivianne.

I’m still dubious about the best in rehydrated meals (Peak Refuel/Alpine Aire/etc.) so my old standby, a stack of peanut butter and honey sandwiches were my staple.

I love this area and try to get up there every year. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Zpacks pack ready to go

The small, unnamed lake next to Colchuck
The larch forest halfway up Asgaard Pass with a wall of granite behind.
Isolation Lake in the Upper Enchantments.
My Zpacks Triplex tent and campsite in the Enchantments.
Enchantments Golden larches near Inspiration Lake
Sunlit larches along Inspiration Lake

Sunrise view above the Lower Enchantments to Prusik Peak.

Two larches in the sun.
Enchantments Grail Tarn in afternoon light.
Along the Enchantments trail near Leprechaun Lake.
Forest of golden larches near Perfection Lake Enchantments.
View of Asgaard Pass from along Lake Colchuck.

Really glad I got up there this year and of course, can’t wait to go back.

#washington #washingtonstate #pnw #pnwonderland #pnwlife #nature #naturephotography #mountains #enchantments #evergreenstate #waphotographer #waphotography #explorewashington #washingtonexplored #fujifilm #gfx50s @cleverhiker

Mount Rainier National Park Wildflowers Photography – A Banner Year

I can’t recall a year that has been this good for wildflowers, especially my favorite, Lupine.  The sub-alpine meadows all around the mountain are absolutely bursting with color.  Different sides of the mountain favor sunrise or sunset light and I’ve been busy hiking my favorite trails to capture the bounty.  Here are several favorites from around the mountain:

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Mountain in the Mist GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Mountain in the Mist GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Mountain in the Mist Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Mountain in the Mist Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Flower Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Flower Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Paintbrush Meadow GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Paintbrush Meadow GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Sunset Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Sunset Meadow Sunrise GFX50s

Mount Rainier Naches Loop Wildflower Photography GFX50s

Mount Rainier Naches Loop Wildflower Photography GFX50s

Mount Rainier Trail to Tatoosh Wildflower Photography GFX50s

Mount Rainier Trail to Tatoosh Wildflower Photography GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow GFX50s

Mount Rainier Wildflowers Photography Lupine Meadow GFX50s

Prints available here:  Mike Reid Photography

#washington #washingtonstate #pnw #pnwonderland #pnwlife #nature #naturephotography #mountains #nationalparks #evergreenstate #waphotographer #waphotography #explorewashington #washingtonexplored #fujifilm #gfx50s #wildflowers #lupine #meadows